Half a dozen people have made good guesses on the mystery object but only one person has come close. I sent clues to several people:
1. railroading history
2. mill history
3. local inventors
And I've posted a photo of the machine in operation in the late 1800's on the left.
I did some research on my own. It turns out to be relatively hard to find this object on the internet even if you know thepurpose, inventor, location and history of it. I found four good web resources. Next week I'll post the answer and the resource links. Good guessing! Happy Labor Day! This is my Labor Day celebration post, Jo Ann - you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org