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Presque Isle: The Star City

Harvesting Potatoes

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Picking potatoes, Presque Isle, 1939
Picking potatoes, Presque Isle, 1939Presque Isle Historical Society
Lags on a Digger
Lags on a Digger

The bed of each digger consisted of lags which were steel rods 7/16 inches in diameter. They had a hook on each end so that they could be tied together in sequence, making a complete circular bed. The top of the bed would move toward the back, allowed the bed of the digger to sift the dirt from the row, leaving the potatoes (and rocks) to fall off the end.

Occasionally, a rock would embed between the lags while the digger is working, causing the lags to come apart. Usually the teamster would have to hook the lags back together. This slowed things down, but gave a break to the potato pickers and other field workers.

Worn lags would have to be replaced with new ones. The worn lags were not discarded, though. Pulp hooks, barrel hoists, and even knives could be made from worn digger lags.


Digger with Motor
Digger with MotorThis one-row digger was entered in the Mapleton Days parade in June, 2009

In the 1930s some diggers had a gasoline engine mounted on it to power the mechanical parts. This made the digger easier for the horses to pull.

Harvesting Potatoes, Presque Isle, 1940
Harvesting Potatoes, Presque Isle, 1940Presque Isle Historical Society

The photograph on the left was taken near where Presque Isle Middle School is now. A gasoline engine powers the mechanical parts of this digger.

The man to the right of the digger has a basket full of potatoes. He is ready to dump them into a nearby barrel.

The motorized digger on the right was entered in the June, 2007 Mapleton Days Parade. This parade entry illustrates the interest by many in the area in old potato harvesting machinery. Notice that there are no cleats on the wheels of this digger.