By 1901 when Henry Pratt was born the automobile and even the airplane had been invented* but but their effect on the every day life of most people was slight. The telephone was the first of the modern inventions to be used on the farm. Engines, however, were often used to do work where the source of power didn't need to be moveable or move on its own accord.
In 1906, Charlie Pratt, just out of M.A.C. persuaded his father to purchase the first gasoline engine the farm had. It was a three-horse air-cooled engine with a high pressure pump. This, mounted on a second hand water tank and hauled by horses, was one of the first powered orchard sprayers in Berrien County, if not the state.
The second engine was bought in 1908. It weighed 500-600 pounds and had two heavy fly wheels but it only produced six horsepower. Its purpose was to replace a large windmill which was mounted on the barn. The windmill had:
"Instead of a rod that moved up and down a wheel which was geared to turn a steel shaft which ran down the center of the tower, at the bottom end of the shaft was mounted a grinder that would grind corn or wheat into meal. The shaft was also geared to a horizontal line shaft with several pulleys on it."
At the same time they bought a shredder. It would shred corn stalks, snap off the ears and husk them.
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River ar Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands.