Dogs powered this device. What is it?

Dogs powered this device. What is it?

Do you know what this is? We found the device at the museum at Virginia’s Luray Caverns.

No, it’s not a treadmill to keep your dog in shape. So take a guess before you read on (pause for at least 10 seconds). . . .

Okay, here’s the answer: It’s a dog-powered butter churn, manufactured in New York in 1881, with an original patent date of 1871. The treadmill was powered by a walking or running animal like a dog, or maybe a sheep or goat. There were several similar devices made in the last quarter of the 1800s, as they were popular farming equipment. They typically operated light machinery like this butter churn. They were also used to power cream separators, grind stones, corn shellers and fanning mills.

So now you know!


One thought on “Dogs powered this device. What is it?

  1. Lydia Gaebe

    Back in the Middle Ages there was a breed of dog, now extinct called the “turnspit” dog. It was bred to work the spit on which meat was roasted over the kitchen fire. They were something like a terrier. I think the breed went extinct by the early nineteenth century. Here’s the Wikipedia article.

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