No one knew how old the freight scale was in the old shed. The Acworth railroad depot had been decomissioned for some time and removed from Main street in the late 1960's. Just day's before that happened, a group of young Acworth's finest, led by one "Moose" McCray, rescued the freight scale and moved it to a safe location in downtown Acworth. The scales were already pretty old and missing a few pieces, but the main parts were still present and intact. When Mr. McCray donated the scale to the Save Acworth History Foundation the Red Onion Press workshop was approached by the Foundation and asked if we thought the scale could be restored and if we could do it. The Red Onion had just completed the restoration of a 1911 Chandler and Price Printing Press that had been found abandoned in a shed on Old Stilesboro Road, so the Foundation thought we might have the skills to restore the scale to it's original state and in working order. The Red Onion Press is made up of a group of professional artists, educators, craftsmen and volunteer members who share a love of arts, a knowledge of history and above all, working with our hands. We said absolutely, just our kind of project! Little did we know how much time and research it would take to find the information. Where did it come from? Who made it? When was it made? What did it look like? How did it work?
The first big breakthrough was when we started to carefully remove the top layer of dirt and old paint from the wooden crown section. Underneath we could see a set of large gold letters that gave us the name of the manufacturer. HOWE was a company located in Vermont that was founded in the late 1800's and went out of business in the 1950's. There were several historical records on the internet that gave us clues, and we found that the company archives had been preserved at the University of Vermont.
We also learned of several other Howe Scales around including one at the Bullock Museum in Texas and even a smaller portable Howe scale in the Glover Machine Works exhibit at the Southern Museum down the street. Our persistent researcher, Francine McEntyre was able to get a little information from the University of Vermont archives. We learned that a depot scale was referred to as a "dormant" platform scale. Dormant meant that the scale platform was at floor level, eliminating the need to hoist loads onto the scales. The top section was called the cap and the columns were called pillars. We knew that the scale was considered a balance type scale and worked by comparing the unknown load with a set of known weights. Unlike the original balance scales used since biblical days, 19th century scales used a set of specially designed levers and fulcrum points to enable the weight-master to compare the merchandise load to a set of much lighter official steel weights. A page copied from the an 1888 Howe Scale catalog told us that this size scale was rated for 2500 lbs!