Thursday, January 31, 2008

Prison Built Farm Machines

In the mid 90's I worked on a horse farm and purchased a used Minnesota manure spreader that had been manufactured at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater Minnesota. The prison no longer manufactures farm equipment, but much of its iron legacy is still around.

This ad, from a 1913 issue of The Dakota Farmer illustrates a novel mode of production on the busy playing field of early 20th century farm equipment. To my knowledge, the Minnesota line was the only manufactured by prison labor. A state produced machine would seem to have a pricing advantage to privately produced machines, as this ad seems to indicate.

C.H. Wendel in his handy reference Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques states that "little information has been found on this enterprise".

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