Haypress at O’Bannon Woods State Park | Indiana DNR

Haypress at O’Bannon Woods State Park | Indiana DNR


Who can think about what an 1850 haypress does, anybody got an idea? It presses hay! And you want to know why they had such a large piece of equipment to press hay? It weights 5000 pounds and is 35 feet long. Before this haypress they had a jump-box. The jump box, they put hay in and they would jump up and down on top of it to smash the hay. Why did we have to have a haypress back in the 1800’s? Your cities like Louisville and St. Louis, even as far north as New York, were growing. Their transportation was horse, ox and donkeys – they had to be fed just like we put fuel in our cars, they had to be fed with hay. So they had to find a cheaper and easier way to get hay to the cities. Samuel Hewitt invented this in 1843. And this one was in working – the last time it operated was 1913. Now as they would process the hay, this barn’s back was faced to the Ohio River, so as it pressed a bale of hay, if the river was at the right level, they would send it down a chute in the back of the barn. It slid down to a barge, that barge went out to the Ohio river, and went up or down stream to whichever city. Now I have found out that this haypress pressed timothy hay. And it was pressed for Louisville and Louisville only wanted timothy hay. Now to operate this haypress, it took, of course, you can see, an ox. Now you didn’t just go out in the field and grab a bull out in the field and hook him up, they had to be trained, and they start out at four months. Before we get started, I’ll explain a little bit to you about the haypress. We will be going in a counterclockwise direction, the ox will be pulling the sweep, he will raise the weight, they will fill up the hay in the back of the haypress, and when it gets all the way around and we will drop the weight. It’s a free-fall weight, it weighs about 250-300 pounds, and we will do this six times and that will press the hay. Then we will hook up another ox and he will go clockwise. And when he does he takes this press and raises the press floor to the second floor and he will press they hay even tighter. So are we ready to get started? Now if you are looking around, all of the beams with white tags on them are original beams. This haypress is 162 years old. Now if you hear them, they are up there they are loading the hay on the back part of the press. Next year will be our tenth year of operating this haypress. This haypress will make about a 300-350 pound bale of hay. There’s our first hit. We have four more hits. If you look up on the top side, you can see the weight going back up. In a few minutes it will lock in place and we’ll press the hay even tighter.

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