Digging Ditch With Tractor and Laying Drain Tile, Wisconsin

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
A great deal of farming land, especially in the Middle West, had to be reclaimed from the woods and from the swamps. Great marshes, ponds, and bayous (bi´ ), had to be drained, trees had to be removed, and stumps pulled or blown out, before the land was in tillable shape. The removal of the forests did not present so many difficulties to the early settler as did the problem of drainage. The best the pioneer could do at first was to till the hillsides which drained themselves. Then he made open ditches leading into creeks to carry off the surplus rainfall. But the open ditch used up a great deal of ground and it was very awkward to farm around. He next devised the timber ditch. He made heavy boxes of boards and buried these below the freezing-point. But timbers soon decay in the ground, so draining tile came into use. These are made of burned clay. They are made in many sizes. Most farms are now ditched with draining tile. The larger tiles are placed in the ground as leads or mains, and into these are run branches of smaller size tile. But formerly all this tile had to be put into the ground by hand. Ditches were dug with spades, with no end of labor. Tiles were laid in the bottom of these ditches and then the earth piled over them. This scene gives the modern method of reclaiming swamp land by ditching. Here is a huge tractor which digs the ditch to the proper depth as it moves along. The tile, as you see, are laid into its path directly behind it. You will observe that the dirt is carried up beyond the man in the foreground, is dropped on the carrier at the side, and falls in the ridge behind the left, hind wheel of the tractor. Keystone ID: 16732 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.