Remembering the steadfast help of wheelbarrows

Karen Wils photo Above, “Old Ironsides,” Grandpa’s old wheelbarrow, is show.

ESCANABA — Sometimes simple machines are simply the best.

Who ever invented the wheelbarrow deserves a good pat on the back.

What a great summertime friend the wheelbarrow is.

Out on the lawn or beneath the apple trees or tire deep into garden soil, the wheelbarrow is happy at his job.

The wheelbarrow is nothing new. A carved stone showing a person pushing an ancient wheelbarrow dates back to circa 150 A.D.

These plain, one-wheeled carts have been making heavy loads easier to haul for many generations. Wooden wheelbarrows were replaced by metal ones. Now, light weight plastic ones are available.

The wheelbarrow is at home in the garage, shed or barn. It’s a true homebody.

Who remembers wheelbarrow rides as kids?

The oldest, strongest sibling pushed while the younger ones went for a bumpy ride. I can still feel that hard, slightly-rusty iron bottom of Grandpa Rose’s wheelbarrow. It was such an antique, it even had an iron wheel on it.

Heavy as hell but built to last a life time, my brother Mark has and still uses Grandpa’s “Old Ironsides” wheelbarrow.

Wheelbarrows have been used in many situations from hauling wounded soldiers off the battle field to moving bricks and cement for masons and builders.

Yooper wheelbarrows are called to duty on a wide variety of projects. Common jobs include hauling petunias or picking up apples. Other chores may include moving firewood, fetching a dead deer from the woods or barn yard clean up.

Almost every household in the U.P. has a picture of a bunch of cousins in a wheelbarrow or a litter of puppies in the wheelbarrow.

Tractors and side-by-sides are nice but the simple wheelbarrow can sure help a garden grow and keep a yard looking in ship shape.

I’ve got to go now and pull weeds. I think I might fill up that wheelbarrow again!


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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