June 07, 2005

Gazetteer: US hay: N-W

States N-W

Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
The number following the place-name is the total number of hay images for that place in the database. Click on that number to see all the images.

Nichols. Platte Valley farm. 1965. Nebraska . (61)

No fewer than 46 of our 60 odd Nebraska hay images were taken by a single photographer in the quarter-century between 1885 and 1910. Solomon Butcher meticulously documented homesteading in the 1880s and haymaking in 1900, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909, and 1910, a period of astonishing mechanical variety and innovation, especially in the technology of stacking, with which he seems to have been particularly fascinated. Each photograph in Butcher’s haystack series is apparently as predictable in its elements as are the stacks of Monet or Heade: the large stack itself, some kind of stacking contraption, one or two buck-rakes, a few horses, and several men, on the stack and on the ground. All these features are posed against a vague, neutral background topography. While much of the Nebraska prairie may still seem vague and neutral as it whizzes by our windows on Interstate 80, I have selected a more distinctive image to represent the state and its hay: Dale Nichols’ 1965 painting of a Platte Valley farm. At the center of the composition is a loose haystack, being built from, or transferred, to a large wagon. The sky is hugely ominous, clouds dwarfing the simple farmstead at right.

Ritch. McDermitt station stack. 2004. Nevada . (52)

For a state known best for its basin-and-range topography, and arid salt-flats, echoes of former ice age lakes, and latter day casinos, Nevada is also surprisingly well-known for its hay. In fact, a major section of the Library of Congress American Memory Project, is devoted to a documentary in many media (oral histories, videos, slides, etc.) on ranching and haymaking in Paradise Valley, in the north central part of the state. “ Buckaroos in Paradise ,” as the collection is called, has many hay images, 32 of which are in our database, and streaming videos depicting the changing modes of making hay in this region. Forgive me then for selecting one of my own images, taken in a nearby valley, north of Winnemucca, close to the Oregon border. Last August, a recently closed gas station in McDermitt was used to shelter a stack of hay-bales, perhaps from the sun, perhaps from the violent summer thunder storms. Alternative titles might be “once and future horse-power” or “unleaded bales.”

Bierstadt. Haying, Conway Meadows. 1864. New Hampshire. (35)

The productive Hampton hay marshes in the tidal reaches of New Hampshire’s short coast were affectionately illustrated by many anonymous photographers and the painter Charles Henry Turner and are well represented in our essay on Hay on water and need not be shown again here. Instead I have selected a work by one of several of the Hudson River school painters (among them Inness, Bierstadt, Niles, Bricher, Eldred and Champney), who explored the grand mountain scenery of the Saco Valley around the Conway hay meadows in the 1860s and ‘70s. Before the best known of these, the German-American Albert Bierstadt, went west to exaggerate the already improbable vertical dimensions of Yosemite Valley, he painted this New Hampshire landscape in 1864, sometimes called “Haying, Conway Meadows, sometimes more allegorically “Peace and Plenty, North Conway, New Hampshire.” In his monograph on the Hudson River school, A wilder image bright, Kevin Sharp gives this painting vivid prominence: details on the front and back cover and another detail on p.26, as well as extended annotation. According to Sharp the work “reflected the larger issues of community and collectivity during the late stages of the Civil War.” On top of the heavily loaded wagon “two young lovers steal a private moment from the family and neighbors who have gathered the harvest hay.” Yet the lovers seem less intent on each other than on the picturesque field of work and the sublime mountains beyond it.

Heade. New Jersey meadows. 1870s. New Jersey. (21)

Partly because the prolific hay painter Martin Johnson Heade has his own section on this site and partly because the topography of his marsh landscapes was derived from the coast of several northeastern states, we resisted the strong temptation to use him to represent Massachusetts. However, more than half of our New Jersey hay scenes were painted by Martin Johnson Heade. Furthermore, there is a Hudson River School connection and contrast between Bierstadt’s New Hampshire meadows of 1865 and Heade’s New Jersey meadows of the early 1870s. The Smith College Museum which owns the latter work has a useful description of Heade's haystack series: “Heade's banded compositions seem to laugh in the face of received aesthetic theory regarding the picturesque and the sublime. Among the only notable pictorial elements are the huge haystacks -- some in the nineteenth century rising to heights of twenty feet -- which kept the salt grasses elevated and dry as they awaited use as fodder and packing...Heade's compositional elements -- the clouds, the rutted ditches, the switchback canal and the succession of haystacks receding infinitely into the distance -- all induce a lateral rocking motion, a sweeping, panning vision that moves us naturally, not forcibly, through space.” New Jersey’s Meadowlands now entertain a different kind of play, and none of our twentieth century images of the state and its hay deserve to displace Heade’s magic.

Frank. Hayfield in Arroyo Hondo. 1993. New Mexico. (24)

Luminous, rapidly changing sky, sculpted rock, and forested mountains have attracted generations of artists to the area north of Santa Fe. The most famous of these was Georgia O’Keefe, but we have searched in vain for an O’Keefe hay painting. Instead we have settled on a recent oil by Alyce Frank, which shows, in a fauvesque style reminiscent of Derain, a meadow of square bales in the Sangre de Cristo range under a threatening summer sky. The work of two Depression era photographers also deserved serious consideration: John Collier’s fine winter scenes of Moreno Valley hay being loaded from stack to rack for distribution to the stock in the snowy fields; and two Russell Lee series, one on a Spanish-American family, young and old, making hay near Chamisal, and another on the simple, vernacular architecture of sheds and barns near Cuesta, featuring roof-top hay-stacks.

Lanman. Farmyard, East Hampton. 1886. New York. (69)

Many fine images, varying widely in style and scenery, contend for the New York hay place, among them Mount’s Long Island paintings from the 1840s; Hudson Valley farm scenes of Whittredge, Havell, and Cropsey; Manhattan street scenes of Sebron and Bellows; and Vinckelboon’s 1639 map of Manhattan, showing among buildings scattered around the lower tip of the island a recognizable Dutch hay-shed. From among the many photographs we might have selected George Herlick’s WPA sponsored image of a heavily loaded haycart in the city; or Sol Liebsohn’s work in upstate New York during the 1940s (featured on the cover of Douglas Harper’s excellent monograph on the agricultural history of that region); Frederick Kost’s paintings and photographs of salt hay boats near Brookhaven; or my own recent sequence of snowy Central Park hay bales with the Christo Gates. For now, we have chosen a lesser known follower of the Hudson Valley luminaries, Charles Lanman who frequently visited the Hamptons on the South Fork of Long Island in the 1880s, when they had already been adopted as fashionable resorts, and painted this pleasantly nostalgic farmyard scene, in which the haystacks are more polished structures than the nearby barn.

Stevens. Appalachian landscape.1943. North Carolina. (38)

There were more hard decisions to be made within the North Carolina hay collection, with pastels pastels by Will Stevens from the 1940s, recent watercolors by Julie Eastman, and photographs by Carl Moser. Stevens and Moser in particular depicted traditional Appalachian landscapes, with staked conical haystacks investing the scenes with a distinctly Apennine quality. Documenting a different region and social scene for the Farm Security Administration program, Marion Wolcott Post contributed many photographs of African-American farmers, making lespedeza and pea-vine hay in the Piedmont in the early 1940s.

Haying on the Hulstrand farm, Fairdale, North Dakota. 1909. North Dakota. (28)

Photographs in the North Dakota archives document the hardships faced by the homesteaders in that state in the 1880s, haystacks, sod-huts and primitive horse-drawn equipment appear frequently. Thirty years later the determination of the settlers was still being celebrated and documented, in nostalgic regional postcards. These early postcard images were often from hand-colored photographs, most of them, like this one of “the Hultstrand farm near Fairdale” in 1910, anonymous, many of them posed with the family dog.

Shahn. Stacking hay with cable rig and fork, Central Ohio. 1938. Ohio. (9)

Among the best known photographers who captured rural America on film for the Farm Security Administration during the 1930s and 1940s was an artist, far more famous for his work in other media. Ben Shahn toured central Ohio in 1938 and took at least five haymaking photos, all faded either by overexposure or time, but each reflecting his aesthetic instincts. One of them, an almost abstract stack of bales, taken frontally without context, celebrates the satisfying textures of hay, in a style subsequently imitated by dozens of others. But the one selected, “Stacking hay with cable rig and fork,” is particularly Shahnesque, in its emaciated human figures, calligraphic elements, textural contrasts, and angular arrangements. Little specific to Ohio, save perhaps the shape of the barn, is visible, but the caption is precisely descriptive, with a hint of irony, drawing attention to the contrasting capacity of “cable” and “fork.” Another tempting image from our handful of Ohio hay pictures in the database is the anonymous, but technically superior “Model T with load of hay.”

Lehman. Hay bales in a field. 1996. Oklahoma. (5)

Although a Russell Lee Creek County haybarn from 1940, showing African-American tenant farmers carrying hay into barn to feed mule and pitching down the hay from the loft above, does evoke the hardscrabble feel of the time and place, none of our handful of Oklahoma images is topographically distinctive. But Danny Lehman’s photograph, from October 1996, at least shows the scrubby pine and a simple, prefabricated farmstead, characteristic of the rural scenery near Wilburton.

Elster. Umpquah hay harvest. Oregon. (29)

Among the many disparate choices to represent Oregon hay are: the cover of a 2003 state planning brochure, showing a steep field of bales with Cascades behind it; photographs by Dorothea Lange , 1939, and Russell Lee, two years later, documenting the reclamation of Malheur County for hay and dairying; my own series on the chopped-and-blown alfalfa of the dry eastern state; and “Haystack” rock, one of several seastacks resembling hayricks along the rugged Oregon coast. My choice, however, is a Craig Elster pastel, which beautifully evokes the inland valleys of southern Oregon, with their logged-off forest remnants, red barns, and hayfields, both fresh cut and baled.

Rowan. Amish men baling hay. 1985. Pennsylvania. (27)

Since the Wyeth family is so strongly associated with Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, and since both Andrew and Jamie have hay paintings in our database, why not use one of them to represent the state? Or why not take one of two fine photographs by their friend and neighbor Karl Kuerner who has one of windrowed hay good enough to be used on the cover of Gene Logsdon’s Contrary farmer? Or why not show Sheeler’s archetypal Pennsylvania barn? But there are equally compelling reasons to use one of our several photographs of Amish haymaking in Lancaster County, surely one of the best known associations of distinctive cultural practice and place in the United States. The one selected shows the tension in Amish agriculture between tradition and efficiency. While most vehicles, including mowers, rakes, and wagons, are powered by horses, this old baler, in Bob Rowan’s 1985 photograph is powered by a tractor. The hay is brought by horse-drawn wagons to the fixed-position baler, set among cornfields near Bird-in-hand. Another horse-drawn wagon carts off the finished bales. The barn and other background structures reflect the profitability of cooperative farming on the richest soil in Pennsylvania.

Whittredge. Old homestead by the sea. 1883. Rhode Island. (11)

More than half of the Rhode Island hay images in the database are by Martin Johnson Heade. One early landscape of Mount Hope Bay even has a haystack not in the marshes that would later become his principal theme. But Heade’s contemporary, Worthington Whittredge, also classified by some as a Luminist, contributed three, all depicting a nostalgic old farmhouse by the beach near Newport. In one of these “Home by the sea-side” (1871), a hay wain comes up the hill beside the house. In “Home by the sea”3675 done the following year, there is a more distant, equally nostalgic haying scene, where two or three small figures are raking hay into cocks. By 1872, Newport was already a busy resort, of which there is a hint in the fleet of pleasure yachts amid the background haze. In the third, “Old Homestead by the sea,” shown here, workers on and around a haystack are the primary focus of the same cluster of farm buildings. Two are on top of the stack a third is on a ladder, and a fourth seems to be forking hay upwards.

Walker. Hay/rice harvest. 1885. South Carolina. (9)

The number above suggests that there are nine images of South Carolina haymaking from which to choose. In fact only one of these, a Tony Aruzza photograph of an old Lexington County barn with cylindrical bales, depicts authentic hay. The rest show harvest scenes more characteristic of the lowland plantations, where rice was and continues to be the dominant crop. Among these, the most prolific contributor was the watercolorist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, whose work is thoroughly documented in John Vlach’s 2002 monograph, The planter's prospect: privilege and slavery in plantation paintings, in which Chapter 7 is devoted to Smith's lovingly documented rice plantation series. The rice appears to have been gathered loosely rather than in sheaves, and so its appearance -- in field heaps, in boats, and in stacks -- closely resembles its northern equivalent, hay. Smith “created a set of pleasant images in which the cruelty and violence that undergirded so much of the plantation system were visually neutralized.” [p.175] The work shown here is by an artist who observed this system directly and recorded it more faithfully. This 1885 painting by William Aiken Walker, is listed in my database with the comfortably erroneous title “Hay harvest” (as used in Art News, May 1987). No fewer than 23 African American field hands, can be counted in this scene of plantation farming. The stubble looks as straight-edged as straw, but the workers, men and women, are evidently engaged in building large haycocks and loading a large wagon, pulled by two mules. In the left distance at the end of a row of trees is apparently a factory with a tall, smoking chimney. After writing this annotation, I discovered the original work at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans. The Ogden title is “Rice Harvest” -- more plausible, alas, than the one first found. We'll leave it in the database, relegated to the “mistakes” category and use it here for its fine depiction of a South Carolina landscape.

Sullivan Homestead, near Dog Ear Lake, Winner, SD. 1909. South Dakota. (13)

Among the scores of fine hand-colored photographs in the American Memory Project is this anonymous South Dakota scene from 1909, showing a homestead near Dog Ear Lake. The cluster of primitive buildings includes a sod house, a sod outbuilding with hay on its roof, apparently tied down with weighted ropes, and a stable, also with hay on the roof. Two mules or horses are hitched to a hayrack. In spite of the lonely figure in the doorway, the crowded composition gives no hint of the kind of Great Plains isolation dramatized in other hay pictures in our collection, notably John Vachon’s Bringing in feed, a 1948 winter scene, in which a load of hay is dwarfed by whiteness, and Ed Wargin’s 1997 hay bales under a huge tower of cumulus.

Day. Farm and factory. 1940. Tennessee. (5)

The title of Horace Day’s WPA mural in the Clinton, Tennessee post office is “Farm and factory,” and its centerpiece is a horse-drawn wagon of loose hay. Industrial buildings of uncertain use are pushed to the background, suggesting Day’s nostalgia for traditional ways of life in 1940, a year of uncertainty. Two contemporary paintings by Bill Puryear, one capturing the rhythm of windrows, the other, what has become a landscape cliché, cylindrical bales in park-like landscape (see also Harold Stinnette’s photographs of Great Smoky Mountains National Park), show more of Tennessee’s rolling topography.

O’Rear. Rolled hay bales in field. Texas. (14)

The corduroy-like regularity of the utterly flat surface of the west Texas plains, known as Llano Estocado (named for the pioneer practice of installing landmark stakes to assist orientation) is subverted by the irregular placement of the cylindrical bales and their shadows. Alternative Texan images in the database are few in number and no more topographically distinctive than this one, although the group taken by my friend Sandra Wasson in her home-region of east Texas does show some woodland vegetation around the smaller fields of bales. The peripatetic Russell Lee also contributed a few Depression era photographs of, for example, people and hay in Weatherford and San Augustine. Finally, I could have represented Texas with a turkey made of hay, but resisted the temptation, in favor of a loftier, more abstract perspective.

Russon. Hayin’ with the ‘32. Utah. (54)

Ron Russon is a Lehi, Utah dairy farmer turned painter, and each of his three hay images in our collection conveys the feel of someone who has done the work. The one shown here has the folksy title “Hayin’ with the ’32” and conveys not only the western rancher’s attachment to his trucks but also the distinctive landscape of Mormon Country with its lines of poplars defining field boundaries and creeks. The other two include a powerful triptych of brothers hauling hay and a more conventional landscape of round bales and poplars. There are several fine hay-and-snow scenes in the Utah set, some already used in our “Hay in Winter” essay: paintings by Paul Salisbury and Robert Duncan; and photographs by Jonathan Blair. We also have literally dozens of FSA sponsored photographs by Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and Russell Lee. The first of these, as usual, focused on the people making hay, while Rothstein and Lee both documented the distinctively innovative Mormon haying equipment.

Delano. Using a car to load hay in the barn on a farm near Cambridge, Vermont. 1941. Vermont. (56)

While other FSA photographers (Rothstein, Wolcott) documented haymaking and dairying in Vermont in the thirties and forties, the Russian born Jack Delano was easily the most prolific (27 hay images). Delano seems to have been particularly interested in technological transitions: mowing-machines pulled by oxen , hay wagons filled by 3938 fork and mechanical loader, and, as shown here, the improvised use of an automobile to hoist hay into the barn. Note that the shake and metal roof of Delano’s barn is authentically hybrid. Another artist strongly associated with Vermont (and one equally indifferent to picturesque conventions) is the painter Altoon Sultan. Her images of plastic covered silage and other features of the contemporary landscape are described in the section entitled “Altoon Sultan’s ambivalence” and also appear in the essay “ From Wales to Wisdom .” Modern methods of making hay, haylage, and silage are also thoroughly documented in nine photographs of James Blair. Other more nostalgic images include Alice Buell’s etching Vermont landmark shows a heap of hay near a barn and silo, and Hiram Merrill’s engraving of a hay wagon threatened by a storm is used as the cover illustration for Allen Yale’s history of Vermont haymaking While the sun shines.

Alexander. Ralph Wheelock’s farm. 1822. Virginia. (13)

“Ralph Wheelock’s Farm” is one of two Francis Alexander hay paintings in the database. The other, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicts a New Hampshire farm, in the same naïve but documentary style. Here we see a white Virginia farmhouse in 1822 with several red outbuildings at the top of a rise. A large hayfield covers the hill between the farmstead and the observer; the foreground is a regular row of haycocks; and another row is being loaded onto a wagon by half-a-dozen workers. Higher up the hill, a team of scythers mow the grass which is already brown. As anecdotal as the great Cotswold panorama of a century before, but more intimately domestic, this work perfectly captures a hay time and hay place. Among the other Virginia images, the most notable are a series by Marion Post Wolcott, on African American tenant farmers, making hay in Pittsylvania County in 1939, and a Civil War stereograph of hay in an Alexandria barn.

Haying, Ellensburg. 1908. Washington. (49)

Thanks to their diligent acquisition, preservation and virtual distribution of their visual resource collections, the libraries and archives of western Washington (including, most gratefully, the University of Washington Special Collections, the Maple Valley Historical Society and the Eastside Heritage Center) have given us a fine suite of images on early haymaking in their region. Most notable are the densely distributed haycocks in newly cleared forests, fields and orchards, especially in the photographs of Albert Barnes around 1910; the dramatic Josef Scaylea images of work from the 1950s, and depictions of the commercial transport of hay by river, by truck and into town. Another fine source of hay scenes, especially from the first decade of the twentieth century is hand-colored postcard, reflecting pride in local economic and technical progress. One boasts explicitly of productivity in a caption reading: “$2,000,000 worth [of hay] raised within eight miles of North Yakima, Washington;” others let the pictures of haycocks, enormous stacks, or huge piles of bales, including the ones shown here, boost and boast implicitly. This attitude is reflected in a slightly different form in Bob Rowan’s 2002 photograph of a vast American flag protecting the side of a Washington bale-stack.

Fleming. Round bales in log barn. 1996. West Virginia. (7)

Considering the importance of haymaking in the Appalachian economy, the dearth of images of West Virginia hay is a bit surprising. Perhaps the local farmers are too busy making ends meet to encourage outsiders to document their way of life. While traveling near Wallace twenty years ago, I found staked haystacks that would not appear out of place in Transylvania, but they were still important features in the landscape of smallholdings in the hollows. Two more recent photographs, by Kevin Fleming and Robert Feinman suggest that the cylindrical bale has found its way into traditional West Virginia. Fleming’s 1996 image of a rustic log barn sheltering modern style bales is particularly effective. Finally, as a reminder that this state is not entirely Appalachian, notice the utterly flat abstraction of David Seawell’s aerial view of hay fields in the Ohio Valley to the west.

Garnett. Wisconsin farm. 1968. Wisconsin. (36)

William Garnett’s aerial abstractions often reveal more than a low-angled photograph from ground-level. In this 1968 Wisconsin farm scene, the straight parallel lines suggest that the landscape is flat; but the contoured windrows tell us that, like much of the state, it rolls, gently sloping to the left of the picture. As with the other Midwestern states, haymaking during the Depression years was well documented. One of the more striking scenes is of the Paulsen family near Racine using their Model A car to pull a hay cart. And a fine series of FSA photographs by John Vachon includes haycocks, filling a wagon with a fork and a mechanical loader, an imposing woman on a wagon, and several images documenting hoisting hay into a barn. More recent, but not precisely dated by Corbis, is a vivid Wisconsin hay project by Richard Hamilton Smith, including a baler-accessory which flings bales into the trailing wagon, a nice series of round bales in winter, and ground level views of the kind of corn and hay country Garnett showed us from the air.

Harper. Wyoming harvest. Wyoming. (50)

A recent article for the Jackson Hole Travel and Real Estate Guide noted that a visitors poll ranked the haystacks on the Porter Ranch south of town, second only to the Grand Tetons as the most appealing features of the valley. The article used that wondrous news to justify a detailed account of the history of haymaking in the area, but ended with the following ominous paragraph: “A subdivision just south of the ranch has outgrown its boundaries and there are tremendous pressures to subdivide the ranch. To give you some idea of the pressures facing the owners, if the whole ranch were developed at the same density as the adjacent Rafter J subdivision the owners would realize almost half a billion dollars. In a previous column I wrote, ‘Don't move here. Please.’ Perhaps I should now say, ‘Please move here and help get this over with.’ There won't be any more haystacks and there won't be any more working men who know how to build them, but that's the price of change. I guess.” [Jon Horton] With that kind of drama and imminent demise, I feel obliged to show Robert Harper's "Wyoming Harvest," one of Jackson Hole’s distinctive haystacks as Wyoming’s exhibit A. Dee Parker’s recent painting “Changes” actually evokes the more benign, technological change from loose hay stacks to bales. Like the marsh hay stacks of nineteenth century New England the local traditional form was built on a staddle to raise it, not from tidal creeks, but from deliberate flood irrigation which increases the yield. Horton tells about the skill of the stackers and the legendary longevity of the stacks (one was still edible about 40 years after it was built). A photograph I took in 1977 shows a typical stack. Last year, one surviving stack was patriotically embellished for the tourist’s camera, and the backdrop to a nearby beaverslide elevator was a shopping mall. But painters like Parker, , Marcia LeMire and Paul Dykman will continue to sell images of the old-style hay in the local galleries. Older, more notable pictures of Wyoming hay include a painting by Thomas Hart Benton , an engraving by Remington, several drawings by Hans Kleiber, an artist who lived for years in the Big Horn Mountains, and a ceramic Christmas ornament by Gloria Kimball, showing Jackson Hole winter feeding in front of the Tetons. Other parts of Wyoming, notably the area to the south, near Pinedale, will continue to produce vast quantities of hay into the indefinite future, using both traditional and modern methods. Further to the south and east, is a landscape more reminiscent of the American Southwest, where the stripped red rock of Hamilton Dome is a backdrop to fields of alfalfa irrigated by sprinklers not ditches, and square bales are thick on the ground.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 04:05 PM