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Ox Treadmill

Long before combustion engines and steam power became popular, animals were pressed into service to use as power sources. Converting an animal’s linear movement into rotary motion wasn’t easy. Animal-operated treadmills were built in many sizes.


This treadmill consists of an inclined pen with an endless chain of cross planks (lags), each if which is supported and connected to each other by the drive pulley by arrangements of rollers. There is a governor inside to keep the movement of the platform from running away with the oxen. The oxen heads were placed in the yoke to keep them confined from moving forward and off the treadmill. As the oxen were made to walk upward and forward, their weight forced the floor to move and on this treadmill, caused the attached crosscut sawblade to operate, in a back and forth motion which cut wood. 


In 1948, Samuel “Sam” Axtell (1889-1961) donated this Ox Treadmill to Owen Pioneer Museum at Chattaroy. It had been used by his father, Joseph Axtell. The treadmill was very old and rare then. Sam lived in the Bear Creek/Milan area. He owned many acres just Northwest of Owen Pioneer Museum. In early years, Sam was listed in censuses as a farmer. In 1950, he was listed as an employee of an electricity distribution company. 


The Yoke was donated by Jim and Clara Davies in memory of Alice D. Popp Owen and Alexander Bell Owen who settled on the Chattaroy Owen property August 1,1886. The Davies were early pioneers of Rocky Gorge Ranch in Deer Valley, West of Newport. 

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