Day 15 Beaverslide

Last night the chef at the hotel restaurant prepared an omelet for each of us because they didn’t open for breakfast until 8 AM. We microwaved them this morning and ate them in our room. Yum.

The temperature was nippy when we left at the crack of dawn. We had a 10 mile climb with a lot of headwind as we went up and over Big Hole Pass (7400 feet). The air remains hazy from the forest fires. There wasn’t a lot to see but the sky was very large.

We went downhill and then over a smaller unmarked pass and continued dropping into Dillon, Montana. Unlike Pittsburgh, Dillon is celebrating Labor Day with a parade.

Dillon is in the Beaverhead valley. The valley, river and county gets their name from a giant limestone outcropping that the Indians said looked like a beaver swimming in the water. You may have to squint a little to see the beaver.

Our destination was Sheridan, Montana, population 742. It is a quiet little town with a business district about a block long. Today we descended more than we climbed.

A beaverslide (photo at top of post) is a device for stacking loose hay. It was invented in the Big Hole Valley in 1908 and was called Beaverhead County Slide Stacker. That was quickly shortened to beaverslide.

We saw several very large steel beaverslide‘s but no haystacks. Here is a link to a large beaverslide in operation. A haystack will preserve the hay for 3-4 years. Baled hay is only good for a year. We only saw baled hay on our travels.

Here is a truck picking up round hay bales.

Here is a truck picking up square bales.

And a third style of truck that is shown tilting its bed to stack the bales.

People in Montana know how to handle hay.


  • Jackson to Sheridan, Montana
  • Distance: 86.3 miles (139 km)
  • Climbing: 2833 feet (863 m)
  • Temperature: 42 – 85°F (6 – 29°C)

Dad and Bicycles

Dad liked to go riding with us kids on a 6-mile loop to the East of town. It went south to the English River and then followed the river east. The loop was mostly flat and all on gravel.

On one trip it was Dad, Willie and myself. At about the halfway point one of the cotters fell out of the left crank arm. Fortunately the right arm (with the sprockets) remained attached. Dad removed a shoestring from my left tennis shoe and used it to tie my foot to the right pedal. We completed our journey back to the house using just one leg.

Then I tried to put the wrong foot down in the driveway. Over and down I went. Everyone laughed except for me.

After that we learned how to file cotters and that cotters had to be installed in the proper direction. Otherwise they become loose very quickly. Dad was teaching us how bicycles worked and how to be resourceful.


3 thoughts on “Day 15 Beaverslide

  1. Loving all of the posts. I wondered where all of the forages/hay came from for all of the livestock out West. I believe you have discovered the source for me. I would agree that those folks know hay and how to put it up. I don’t think that the Beaverslide would be a big seller in Illinois. I will take a hard pass on purchasing one. Keep on ridin’ gentlemen. Looking forward to the next post. Ole Joe


  2. Al,
    Another great and enjoyable post. Really liked your post of the various hay bundling methods. Especially liked the pic of the loose hay stacker. Being a person who collects loose hay handling equipment such as trolleys, pulleys, forks, handling equipment, etc., as soon as I saw the first pic I realized what its function was but not the specifics. Thanks for explaining it. If you do not mind, I would like to post that pic on the Hay Trolley Heaven Facebook site.



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