Reinventing the Wheel
Wheels & Gears at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
Ingenuity is a key component in our state’s agricultural story, and the science, technology, engineering, art, and math that it took to get the job done is well represented at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.
People involved in agriculture have always been resourceful, especially in the early years. Many times they designed and created their own tools or implements, whatever was needed, and usually with limited resources. They learned to repair or alter these devices as well. The Museum is on 47 acres, and the number of objects on display reflecting this part of New Mexico history is astounding.
The Wheels & Gears exhibit located in the Heritage Gallery is a showcase of rolling treasures. Horse-drawn sources of transportation, such as a piano box buggy, a canopy-top surrey and a buckboard wagon (all from around 1900) are parked next to the motorized 1924 Model T Roadster and 1936 half-ton International Harvester pickup truck.
The Museum’s collection of tractors includes a 1947 Minneapolis-Moline and a 1936 Farmall, but not everything inside the 20,000-square-foot gallery is easily identifiable. There is also a manure spreader to fertilize, a nut tree knocker to harvest, and a fanning mill to separate chaff and other plant debris from grain seed.
The gallery features hundreds of mechanical objects that turn, flatten, peel, flip, roll, stir, and beat. The Home Sweet Home exhibit displays an array of kitchen utensils and laundry gadgets. Saws, hammers, wrenches, drills, and clamps are in the Tool Shed.
Outside, the Museum’s Antique Equipment Park is home to more tractors and rows of plows, planters, cultivators, harvesters, and hay implements. To get there, however, you must cross the Historic Green Bridge, the Museum’s largest object, and a great example of early bridge technology. Listed on the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties in 1997, the bridge was identified in a 1987 bridge survey as the oldest and longest Pratt through-truss bridge with pinned connections in New Mexico, the second-oldest surviving highway bridge in the state, and the state’s oldest steel highway bridge. The structure is 133 feet long and 16 feet wide.
Open Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5:00 p.m. The barns close at 4:00 p.m. each day. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The barns close at 4:00 p.m. each day, but visitors may still walk to see the livestock until 5:00 p.m. Adults $5, Seniors (60+) $4, Children (4–17) $3, Active US military & veterans $2, Children 3 and under and museum members with card: Free. The museum is located just off Interstate 25 in Las Cruces at 4100 Dripping Springs Road. Take the University Exit (Exit 1) and go east 1.5 miles.
NMFRHM’s Education Department provides learning opportunities to visitors of all ages with programs designed to meet the needs of specific audiences including school groups, teachers, children, adult learners, families, organizations, and individuals.
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