Friday, September 12, 2014

Weighing In: Mystery Artifact Revealed

I didn't anticipate how difficult it would be to guess this mystery artifact, but the item above apparently left our readers stumped!  Does this photo give you a hint?

It features a hitching post in the town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, which is deep in Amish Country.  It is not unusual to see horse-drawn wagons and buggies there on any given day, and visitors might see our mystery artifact in use there, as well.

It is a tether weight or buggy anchor and was used, much like a ship's anchor, to hold the horse and buggy in place if a hitching post was not available.  The driver would throw the anchor overboard, as it were, and with the chain clipped to the horse's harness, the horse would be held in place by the weight.  Well-trained driving teams of horses would not move far without a command to do so, but the weight ensured they would stay nearby even if spooked.

It certainly seems a more humane way of tethering than hobbling, in which a rope is tied between the horse's front and back legs (look closely at the mule in the photo below for the hobble rope).  With the rope in place, the horse can only hobble from one spot to another while grazing rather than running off.

Tether weights came in all shapes and sizes, like the ones pictured below:

Tune in next week for another exciting mystery artifact.  Until then, we hope you'll join us tomorrow at our Prairie Stories event!  You can find more information on our website, and here is a schedule of activities to help you plan your visit:

Demonstrations & Activities
10:00 am -5:00 pm Blacksmith
10:00 am -5:00 pm Cooper
10:00 am -5:00 pm Basket weaving
10:00 am -5:00 pm Pottery-making
10:00 am -5:00 pm Weaving
10:00 am -5:00 pm Outdoor Games

12:00 pm-5:00 pm Hands-on Activities

12:00 pm-5:00 pm Archaeology Activities
1:00 pm-2:00 pm Central Illinois English Country Dancers
2:00 pm-4:00 pm Banjulele

Schoolhouse Fun!
12:30 pm-1:00 pm Quill Writing
1:30 pm-2:00 pm Spelling Bee
2:30 pm-3:00 pm 19th Century Fashion

Bring out the whole family for a day of fun! We hope to see you there!

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