Anderson Family History

Solar Power in 1930s Center, South Dakota

Clothes drying was always solar powered at Center, South Dakota. And many times in the winter the clothes were freeze-dried also. But another interesting use of Solar Power was rigged up primarily by my brothers.

A thirty-gallon oil drum was commandeered from the shed and the top was carefully removed. On the west side of the shed, a platform was nailed to the outside siding just large enough to hold the oil drum. This platform was mounted about ten feet above the ground and carefully braced to hold the weight of the barrel when filled with water.

A rubber hose was placed into the barrel and run through a knothole in the siding, then stopped about five feet off the floor of the shed. The barrel was filled with water a pailful at a time. A pail of water was pumped from the cistern, then carried the 60 feet or so to the back of the shed. Then it was carried up a ladder and dumped into the barrel. This took about 15 or so pails of water to completely fill the barrel.

It took a couple days with the sun shining on the barrel to thoroughly warm the water and by then the shower was ready to use. Sucking on the hose got the siphon action running and a clamp on the hose could slow the flow or completely stop it as required. This was used several times, but the work of filling the barrel made it questionable as to its worth.

Baths were usually taken in a large washtub, around the dining room stove in the winter, and in the basement in the summer. But the experiment with the Solar Powered Shower was a memorable experience.

 By Merland D. Howe, 2000.



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