Invention Made History 181 Years Ago in Climax
It must have been quite a sight. Hiram Moore hitched up a team of 20 horses to haul his new contraption thru a wheat field north of Climax, Michigan. It was July 12, 1838.
Moore’s new combine cut a swath 15’ wide and carved out a big place in agricultural history on the Climax Prairie, 181 years ago.
An article by Larry L. Coin tells more about the event. He writes that Moore’s machine was exceedingly bulky. “It’s ‘Bull Wheel’ was 10 feet high and it took a high degree of maneuvering to get the combine turned around.”
Efficient harvesting became increasingly important as wheat became the prime cash crop for early settlers in Michigan. Local mills turned out flour, which was shipped east to supply a growing market,
That was especially in years immediately following the Civil War and continued until the plains states became the wheat belt.
Battle Creek became a huge manufacturing center for threshing machines to harvest wheat, before cereal was the primary product of Battle Creek.
Historian J. H. Brown erected monument to Moore’s thresher in Climax.
Coin writes “As far as anyone knows, there is nothing left of the original Moore combine or even parts of it. The closest thing would be a working miniature model made by a group of Climax citizens. That model now is in the hands of the Agricultural Engineering Department at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.” It is housed at MSU's Farrall Hall.
A plaque was dedicated in 1978 by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
There's also a photo c. 1850 at the Kalamazoo Public Library.