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American made Woodside’s Adolph Rosekrans restores farming implements from the days of the horse-drawn plow Story by Dave Boyce photos by Michelle Le I t requires a leap of imagination to visualize it now, but there was a time when growing crops commercially in the United States meant entering the domain of draft horses and the iron, steel and hardwood tracery of the American-made farming implements they pulled. Pastures under cultivation felt the heavy tread of nodding, plodding teams of big, muscular animals and the slow churn of the delving metal blades of plows, cultivators and harrows. It was a simpler time. A farmer’s engines of cultivation ran on hay and were more or less selfsteering. The necessary work included turning over the soil, breaking up the big lumps and then planting, weeding and harvesting. There were implements made to do all of these things. They could be simple or complicated, as well as ingenious. Farmers wanted labor-saving devices and American factories were hothouses of innovation. Traveling salesmen would visit farmers and demonstrate a company’s latest products using hand-held scale models. “They were always building a better mousetrap,” Woodside resident, planning commissioner and architect Adolph Rosekrans told the Almanac. Mr. Rosekrans has a collection of about 100 horse-drawn farm implements, a collection that started to come together about 12 years ago with 10 or 12 implements that had been sitting under trees for years at his home at Runnymede Farm on Runnymede Road. “I was fascinated with the tools, the engineering and the levers and the gears,” he says. A substantial part of Mr. Rosekrans’ restored collection goes on display in the San Mateo County History Museum in the exhibit “Plowing Ahead: Historic Peninsula Farming” on Wednesday, March 13. The exhibit at 2200 Broadway St. in Redwood City runs (tentatively) Above: An old stone barn with eight milking stalls and a workshop on the upper level frames sculptor and part-time farm implement restorer Sam Perry at Runnymede Farm in Woodside. Right: A single-blade plow sits as a work in progress on the workbench in the barn at Runnymede Farm. until September 2014 and will include 16 lithographs of Peninsula farms from around 1878, drawn by Grafton Tyler Brown, an early African-American artist in California. Since 2003, when Mr. Rosekrans transferred ownership of his collection to the museum, it has continued to grow. The Almanac visited with Mr. Rosekrans and his assistant Sam Perry, an Oakland-based sculptor. The tour included the Continued on next page March 13, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN21

The Almanac 03.13.2013 - Section 2

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