Dogs powered this device. What is it?

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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!

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Rob
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Rob

Now theres a solution for our energy needs, Come on Mike.. design a battery charger powered by dogs. Then maybe they would sleep and not bark as much ?? I would bet the generator and gas would be cheaper that the Dog food vet bills eat. But then with a dog you would have someone to talk to when the wife mad at you 🙂

Margaret Mockett
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Margaret Mockett

We had one of these dog treadmills on the farm. It was used to fill the big water tank which would keep the milk cans cool until the milk truck could pick the milk up in the morning. Our dog knew when it was time to do his job and would run and hide. It was my job to find him and put him on the treadmill. If I couldn’t find him I had the job of filling the water tank. Thanks for the memory!

Lydia Gaebe
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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. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnspit_dog