Ditch plows increased farming in Lincoln County

Throwback Thursday
The ditch plow paved the way for agriculture by making the land more arable.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:17 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The ditch plow paved the way for farmers in the Midwest by making their land sustainable for agriculture. In the river valleys, the ditch plows drained water from the land and made areas more arable. This machine could build a four-foot ditch with extra feet on the sides. It would take 42 head of oxen to pull the ditch plow, and farmers would pay $1,000 per mile. The creator of the ditch plow dug along the Nebraska panhandle, Wyoming and Colorado. Ditch plow machines originated in Fall City, Nebraska.

“You have the Fremont slough and different areas out by white horse creek that weren’t able to grow crops because it was so marshy,” said Jim Griffin, Curator Director of Lincoln County Historical Museum. “The ditches back to the rivers would drain water tables so people could farm in this area. The ditch plow had an impact on the farming ability of Lincoln County.”

The ditch plow is unique to the Lincoln County historical museum. It may be the only one left in the United States. Many of the ditch plow machines were scrapped for metal during WWII.

“This important piece of history that allowed this valley to be farmed economically is on display at the museum for people to come and see,” said Griffin.

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