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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
Earth Moving Implements

The first and most universal earth moving implement was, of course, the hand shovel. But early farmers in Western America were in need of an implement that would utilize the power of horses to move earth and smaller rocks in order to dig canals, ditches and cellars, to construct roads and dikes, and to level land


The original Slip/Scoop scraper is shown above. It was also variously called the "flip" or "slip" scraper because it was flipped to empty it and it slid (or slipped) along the ground as horses pulled it along. It was pulled by one or two horses and was operated by lifting the two wooden handles to dig the metal blade into the ground. As the scraper filled with dirt and rocks the handles would be lowered and the loaded scraper pulled to a location where the load could be dumped by flipping the scraper forward and over. As you can easily imagine, the loaded scraper was heavy and a great heave was required to flip it forward. In addition the operator had to hang the reins for controlling the horses around his neck so he could access them quickly without dropping them. It was very hard, demanding, work.


Pictured above is the much improved Buck scraper with a metal bucket. This scraper operated on the same principles as the slip scraper but was much more efficient and easier to handle.


Pictured above is the "Perfected" Fresno scraper, so named because it incorporated the features of several earlier scrapers plus a few improvements. The Fresno scraper had the obvious advantage of hauling a larger load. In addition, the two curved runners at each end made dumping it easier. It could be lifted up onto the runners while the horses were moving and the forward motion made dumping a little easier. The model above is missing the steel bracket attached to swivels on the ends to which horses were hooked to pull it.

This scraper was large enough to require a team of two or four horses. The human operator had to ride the handle at the rear, lift it up to dig the scraper into the soil to fill it, and pull it down so it would stop digging and slide along to move the soil to where the operator wanted it, and then lift it up and over to empty it. It could then be pulled along, tipped up and empty, on the skids until one was ready to load it again. The task for the man on the end of the handle was very hard and often dangerous work.

History of the Buckboard, Slip and Fresno Scrapers


If you are interested in looking further into this esoteric matter of how the hand operated scraper evolved in America, click on the link above to see an excellent history.


The scraper in the picture above, photographed near Challis, Idaho in 1966, appears to be a cross between a buckboard scraper and a buck scraper. In order to pull the scraper, horses were hooked to draft chains which were fastened to the front or sides of the scraping blade (Which is on the right side of the scraper in the picture). The operator stood on the platform behind the scraping blade. One lever raised and lowered the rear of the scraper and the other lever raised and lowered the scraper blade.


In the picture above a man is using a Buck scraper hitched to a single horse to dig a cellar. This picture is a good illustration of the use of the hand operated Buck scraper, which had to be lifted to dig it into the earth and pushed down once loaded so that the scraper full of dirt could be dragged out of the hole. Then it was flipped forward to dump it.

The Miskin Scraper

Click on the link above to be taken to a page with a picture of the first Miskin scraper and a story about it's invention in Idaho.

Click on the link above to be taken to a page with pictures of the Buck and Fresno scrapers in use building a road in Idaho.