News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 14, 2013

HISTORICAL TREASURE: The pulley — so simple, so helpful

Jan Buffington
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — As a kid, one of my after school chores was to water our calves. I would have to take a couple buckets down to the lake and dip them in the water to fill then carry the heavy buckets back to the troughs to empty. I was always wishing for a well dug close enough to the calves, so I wouldn’t have to do so much lifting. A well would have had a pulley to make the work easier.

A pulley is a wheel placed on an axle that supports the movement of a rope, cable or belt. It is one of the world’s six simple machines used to make work easier. They are not only used to lift something up but also used to reach something from a distance to bring it closer or to move something too heavy to lift without help.

Well pulleys have been replaced by running water in most places, but in third world countries, pulleys are still used to lift water from wells for drinking and also for watering livestock and gardens.

Today’s Historical Treasure is a well pulley found in the Tool Room on the lower level of the Historical Museum. Come in to see the pulley and stay a while to enjoy the decorations of the season.