By Mary Sheldon
President, Hernando Historical Museum Assoc., Inc.
The 1885 Depot Museum is more than railroad history. It also houses some of the larger items collected by the Museum Association. One of the unique items is a sugar cane press. It is a cast iron piece of equipment made by the Chattanooga Plow Company.
The top of the machine features a trough where a long wood pole sweep would be attached and then a horse or mule would be harnessed to the end of the sweep. The animal would tread along in a circle to produce the horsepower to turn the rollers in the press. After the liquid sugar was pressed from the cane, the liquid was transferred to a large cast iron kettle to begin the evaporation and reduction process over a roaring wood fire.
The kettle on display alongside the cane press holds 80 gallons. The backyards of many farms and ranches became the scene of the production of cane syrup. Sugarcane is usually harvested in the Fall and becomes a family and neighborhood gathering. Sugarcane was once a common crop in Hernando County.
The Museums are open! Noon - 3pm
The May-Stringer: Tours Tuesday - Saturday 352-799-0129
The 1885 Depot: Tours Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 352-799-4766
The Countryman One Room Schoolhouse: Tours Saturday 352-515-3054 or 630-464-2313