Probably one of the biggest anachronisms in the movie Bridges of Madison County was the large, round bales dotting the countryside. Farmers who had been around any amount of time at all scoffed, filled their mouths with popcorn, sloshed it down with soda and thought how their time would have been better spent spraying out in the field.
Now if those round bales had been quite a bit smaller
Then they would have come from an Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler, such as the one that Allan Reinders recently donated to the Emmet County Historical Society Museum. Restoring the baler were Don and Lee Valen.
Allan Reinders donated this circa 1940s baler to the Emmet County Historical Society Museum.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
Reinders, who followed in his father's footsteps as an implement dealer, ran an implement dealership in Estherville from 1987-2004 where he sold new Agco and Allis-Chalmers equipment. He bought the Allis-Chalmers baler at auction in Armstrong 15 years ago.
Reinders said Allis-Chalmers started making the baler in the 1940s. He said one reason for the round bales - about the size of a traditional square bale - was that they could be rolled out more easily for bedding. They also shed water better when they were out in the field.
Don Koons, museum board member, said the round bales could be rolled down from the hay mow a lot more easily then rolled over to the cows. "It worked slick," Koons said, adding that this was the first round baler ever made.
The Emmet County Historical Society Museum is located at 1720 Third Ave. S. Hours are 2-5 p.m. seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Call 362-2750 to book group tours. Donations are always welcome.
Reinders said the baler actually used some of the same patents as what tobacco companies had.
Reinders recalled that his father was notified one time when one of his customers near Ruthven was caught in a similar round baler because no one else knew enough about the machine to be able to pull him out. "He was a dealer and no one knew how to get him out," Reinders said.
Reinders also donated belts for the baler and one of the mechanics at Estherville Implement donated some twine which is somewhat narrower than traditional baling sisal.
Recounting some Allis-Chalmers history, Reinders said the company used to paint its equipment green. That all changed though when a company executive traveling through Oregon was thrilled to see a field of orange poppies. The color inspired him so much that when he returned home he encouraged the company to change colors. They took his suggestion and ran with it.
Koons fondly recalled driving by the baler on Reinders' lot south of Estherville. "I thought, boy, that would look nice out here."
Reinders apparently thought so too, and donated it.