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The Fresno Scraper is a machine used for constructing canals and ditches in sandy soil.
It was invented in 1883 by James Porteous. Working with farmers in Fresno, California, USA he had recognized the dependence of the Central San Joaquin Valley on irrigation, and the need for a more efficient means of constructing canals and ditches in the sandy soil.
The Fresno scraper lifted soil into a C-shaped bowl where it could be dragged along. By lifting the handle, the operator could cause the scraper to bite deeper. Once soil was gathered, the handle could be lowered to raise the blade off the ground so it could be dragged to a low spot, and dumped by raising the handle very high.
Fresno scrapers could easily be made down-time, and were in use within six months of the Ring of Fire. They were used by Grantville's road gangs, where Bernie Zeppi became familiar enough with them to introduce them into Russia. Veleda Riddle and Flo Richards came up with the idea of using them to scrape horse manure off of streets.
The leverage that made Fresno scrapers effective also made them potentially dangerous. Raising the handles too quickly while a scraper was moving could cause it to overturn very suddenly. At the least, this could leave the operator with painfully wrenched arms. At worst, anyone hit by the handles would probably be seriously injured, and could even be killed.