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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
Hay Derricks

Most farmers in Eastern Idaho had to put up hay and the derrick was an essential tool


This derrick picture was found in a Lovell Family picture collection. It is interesting that such a large group of people were gathered around such a dirty and mundane task as stacking hay. But it appears the reason was that the top of the derrick boom had broken off. Such an event would have been pictureworthy because, first, they were lucky if no one was hurt and, second, an emergency plan would be needed to get the hay put up.


On the back of the picture above, which was mailed to Ezra Morgan by George Radford, is written "George [Radford], Dean [Radford], and Charley [Haskell] down to Carey just delivered this derrick down there and made it for Charley." George Radford and his sons built the parts for this derrick in the Ririe, Idaho area, hauled them to Carey, Idaho, and constructed the derrick for George's son in law Charley Haskell (Who married George's oldest daughter Vera LaVona Radford).

While most Southeastern Idaho farmers had to have a derrick, there were no companies making derricks. Farmers made their own, usually by joining forces with neighbors or relatives. It was a true cottage industry producting a large, heavy, utilitarian product necessary for farming at that time and place.


Derricks have pretty much disappeared from Eastern Idaho and only through old pictures do we know what they looked like. This picture, taken on the Kenneth Morgan farm near Rigby, Idaho, was meant to illustrate a boy feeding lambs, but in the background is the derrick that served the farm, and the family, well for many years until newer equiment made it obsolete.

Pictures of working derricks

Click on the link above to see pictures of derricks in use.

Pictures of surviving derricks

Click on the link above to see pictures of derricks that have survived the technology revolution in farm machinery.

Derrick Models

Click on the link above to see three models that illustrate variations in the way derricks were built.

Jackson Fork

Click on the link above to see a picture of the Jackson Fork, the appendage at the end of the cable that functioned to lift the hay off the wagon and drop it on the haystack.


The derrick in this picture was a common type used in Eastern Idaho but, because they were built by individual farmers, there were numerous variations on the basic structure.