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Louden All Steel Cow Stall

Louden All Steel Cow Stall

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This is a model of an all steel cow stall first exhibited by Louden Machinery Company at the 1907 National Dairy Show. Previously, stalls were a rigid, all wood construction that was unsanitary and uncomfortable for the cow. Louden’s design accommodated the natural movements of the cow, therefore creating a more comfortable experience which typically meant the cow produced more milk. The steel construction was also much stronger while at the same time cleaner and easier to maintain.
William Louden was born in 1841 in Cassville, Pa but his parents had moved to Iowa before he turned a year old. Louden had a small build and was often sick as a child, which made it harder for him to complete his farm chores. He learned at an early age he would have to change the tools he used since he could not change his physique to be better suited for farm work of that era. In 1867, he had applied for his first two patents, one was a device used to lift and stack hay and the other was used to carry hay into the barn. While not an instantaneous success, his device allowed barn architecture to dramatically change from single to two-level structures, therefore doubling the usable space.
Louden started his first agricultural business in 1868, working out of space on his father-in-law’s farm. In 1870, he moved his operation into Fairfield, IA. He struggled the first few years and in 1877, he was forced to file for bankruptcy. Undeterred, he spent the next 7 years traveling to farms in the area, installing his equipment and developing a consumer base for his products. In 1887, he founded Louden Machinery Company and in 1892, he incorporated, naming his brother as President and himself as Vice-President in order to focus more on the invention and production side of the business. Over the next 40 years, Louden Machinery Company would apply for approximately 200 patents for various inventions and improvements, including the all steel cow stall, individual automatic drinking cup and the flexible barn door hanger. One of his most important inventions that would eventually over-shadow the agricultural side of the business was the supertrack overhead carrier. Manufacturing businesses quickly realized the potential for this product, and Louden quickly amended his design to better suit industrial needs. Even though Louden Machinery Company no longer exists and the agriculture line had been discontinued in the 1960s, the current owner still manufactures this overhead equipment under the Louden name.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Cow Stall
overall: 9 in x 12 1/2 in; x 22.86 cm x 31.75 cm
ID Number
catalog number
nonaccession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture and Natural Resources
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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