Historic wheat harvest pictures tell more than simply the old ways. A little thought also tells a demographic story which is reflected in the dry land wheat towns of eastern Washington.
The above picture shows that harvesting and shipping wheat required people. The equipment would require people. the horses would require people and moving bags of wheat would require multiple handing and storage. Some of this effort would have been taken up by traveling crews. But many would be local. The number of employees or farmers required today is tiny compared to the situation 100 years ago. And that in part explains the appearance of numerous eastern Washington dryland wheat communities.
The change was not immediate. And it has been ongoing. Even the past few decades, long after horse and ox were had no longer been in use for many years the number of workers needed has continued to decline. Farm equipment has gotten better and more reliable. The same can be said for the cars we drive and the way food and goods are distributed. A long list of reasons some of the small towns have faded.
A couple of years ago I had some field time over in the dryland wheat and learned just how much some towns had shrunk. Lesson learned about the lack of places to have an early breakfast.