Dimensions of a Fresno Scraper

Since its invention in 1882, various Fresno scraper sizes have emerged. However, the one invented by James Porteous came with a front board measuring 8 feet wide by 2 feet high and fitted with metal cutting edge.

Porteous’ design also had a short end board. There was also a tailboard where the operator would stand. Dirt was hauled by folding the front board. The hauled dirt would be stored by the end boards.


Porteous invented the scraper because he saw how the Central San Joaquin Valley depended on irrigation. As Porteous worked on his design, he revised it numerous times.

He even exchanged ideas with Abijah McCall, Frank Dusy and William Deidrick. Those three inventors were designing their own scrapers, but Porteous bought the rights to all their designs. Thus Porteous got the sole patent for
the Fresno Scraper.

From 1884 to 1910, several Fresno scrapers were created at the Fresno Agricultural Works. The scraper would be used on road and railroad grading, construction, land leveling and agriculture. The scraper also played a role in the building of the Panama Canal. It would also be used during World War I. Eventually the design concept would spread and influence other earth moving equipment.

Design and Usage

While the Fresno scraper size would change, its basic design remained the same. The device laid the foundation for the contemporary earth moving scrapers. The Fresno scraper was notable for being able to move and scrape soil. It could also discharge the soil at a specified depth. It meant the volume that could be handled quadrupled.

The blade would gather the soil. It would run on a bowl that could be modified to change the bucket angle to the ground. This allowed the scraper to deposit dirt to low areas. The concept revolutionized the industry. Such was the impact that it influenced the design of modern earth movers.

Other Information

Porteous got Patent No. 261,759 for his invention, which was called the dirt scraper. It later became known as the Fresno scraper after Fresno, Los Angeles, the city where Porteous invented it. To this day the shop that Porteous created is still running.

Whatever the differences in Fresno scraper sizes are, one thing is certain: it is one of the most vital civil engineering and agricultural tools ever made. In 1991, the importance of the Fresno scraper was recognized when it was enshrined as an International Historic Engineering Landmark.

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