Saturday, April 07, 2012

The world's largest plow

From housing tracts to Vietnamese strip malls, today it's hard to tell that Westminster was once mainly a farming community. That's why it comes as such a surprise to stumble across the world's largest plow at the southwest corner of Brookhurst Ave. and Bishop Place.
The Post Brothers' Plow was built by Charles R. "Hap" Post and Norman R. Post in 1937 to reclaim farmland ruined by large quantities of silt deposited by the flooding Santa Ana River. It came in handy again in 1938, when the flooding was even worse.  At a rental rate of $100 per hour or per acre, the enormous carbon steel blade pulled Westminster's famously rich topsoil back to the surface.
The plow is 15 tons, 37 feet long, 12 feet high, 11 feet wide, and has a 86-inch blade. Each wheel is more than six feet across. In the photo above, the plow is being pulled -- as was the norm -- by a series of five "100 Drawbar h.p. D-8 Caterpillar tractors."
In addition to restoring thousands of acres of farmland throughout the Santa Ana Valley, the plow was also used to cut ditches for drainage and pipelines. In the 1940s it served the war effort in Nevada, digging trenches for cables at bomb test sites. (Next time there's a power outage in Westminster, you might want to stop by and see if the plow glows a little.)
According to local historian (and former Westminster mayor) Joy Neugebauer, Tom and Miriam Warne acquired the plow from Hap Post and put it on display at their "Rancho Bolsa" as a way to share the area's agricultural heritage with future generations.


TampaMark said...

My Uncle, Alban Holtz, used probably this same plow to turn the soil on his farm in that time period, in what is now Huntington Beach. Per his brother-in-law, and my Uncle (Frank Utick) stated that Uncle Alban had is best harvest after that plowing.

Earl Marchbank said...

My uncle Ray Knapke was also uncle to Norman and Charles "Hap" Post. My Dad, Robert B. Marchbank, was brother-in-law to Ray Knapke. My Dad, who was a farmer himself, used to tell many stories about the use of the plow for reclaiming Orange county farm land. The Post Bros. also taught my Dad how to fly a Waco 10 bi-plane they once had. My Dad did subsequently obtain his pilots license with their help and training. I recently found a few old pictures that my Dad and Mom took of the plow somewhere in Orange County. I remember Dad and I visiting with Hap Post from time to time at his home near Santa Ana California, probably in the early 1960s.