Early Beet Harvester

By Staff
article image

229 West Boundary, Perrysburg, Ohio 43551

The above photo, taken in a beet field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in
the late teens, shows one of the early beet harvester machines,
built by The American Beet Harvester Company in Toledo, Ohio. Many
of the features of this design are incorporated in the present day
beet harvesters. Many other designs appeared in different parts of
the United States as late as 1945, but like other agricultural
machines, they fell to larger corporations with the wherewithal to
market them.

The machine pictured was powered by a two cylinder Fairbanks
Morse engine. The beet harvester had spiral twin screws to uproot
the beets and carry them up to the conveyor after topping them
between two revolving discs. The beets were then conveyed to the
side on the ground where they were piled by hand in bunches to be
picked up later and trucked to the elevators. Later machines, of
course, were able to pile the beets into a truck that followed the
harvester, eliminating the necessity of picking them up by

The photo shows my father, William C. Kern, a machinist who
helped build the early machine in the Toledo Factories Building,
Toledo, Ohio. Dr. Frederick M. Douglas, a well-known Toledo
physician, along with others, helped finance the project.

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