Harlin P. Wilson Agricultural Museum
Adjacent to the Shafter Depot Museum is a big red barn with exhibits pertaining to our agriculture heritage; two crops became dominant in the area cotton and potatoes.
Cotton – The USDA Cotton Research Station was established 2 miles North of Shafter in 1917. This station is now operated by the University of California and continues to be the center for cotton research in the San Joaquin Valley. Until recently cotton was the primary crop for Shafter farmers. On display is early USDA cotton research equipment and cotton equipment, from the age of the cotton picking sack to a red one row cotton picker.
Potatoes – Shafter’s sandy loam soil was excellent for growing early spring potatoes and the potato variety of choice, the Shafter Long White, became known throughout the country. By the 1940’s Shafter had 23 potato sheds shipping hundreds of rail cars daily during harvest season. The museum attempts to capture the flavor of that era with a 1937 potato packing shed exhibit and potato field machinery. An ice refrigerator rail car used to ship potatoes also contains exhibits that tell the potato story as well as a 1956 documentary film showing potato harvest and shipment by rail to market.
Blacksmith – The Shafter Blacksmith Shop, later Nikkel Iron Works, opened in 1923. Blacksmith shops were essential to a farming community to keep equipment repaired and operating. The original equipment from the shop has been installed in the museum in a recreated blacksmith shop of the era.