This is one of America’s most famous carriages. Made so by the dramatic story of its revitalization through an extensive conservation and preservation program by the Carriage Museum at Stony Brook. The carriage is featured prominently in the magnificent rotunda entryway at the Museum. It must be understood that the vehicle was not “restored” or, that is, repainted. Rather, the original colors, painting and lettering were carefully recovered through thousands of hours of painstaking cleaning and removal of various finishes that had covered up the original work. A trip to Stony Brook to see this huge Omnibus might well leave the true carriage lover breathless. This type of large Omnibus is often called a “barge” and they were primarily used for excursions. Many of them were named after famous personalities and historical figures. Thus, the “Grace Darling” after a New England folk heroine who is said to be responsible for the 1838 rescue of ship wrecked sailors off the coast of England. A wonderful book, mentioned below, includes some detailed interior photographs of the Grace Darling and a description of its original decoration. Apparently, the vehicle was manufactured prior to the Civil War by the Concord Carriage Builders, Concord, New Hampshire. Photograph is taken from the The CARRIAGE COLLECTION AT THE MUSEUMS AT STONY BROOK published by the Museums at Stony Brook (1986) and used with the kind permission of the Museums. Visit the Stony Brook Museum’s Web Site!
The vehicle pictured here was used for a long time by the Crawford House, in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, to transport guests. It was manufactured by Abbott & Downing of Concord, New Hampshire. It appears to be much lighter than many mountain wagon and was likely used for shuttling hotel guests to and from the Railway Station. These wagons were used primarily in the western United States and Canada and were generally equipped with three or four seats. They were constructed in a manner similar to a Spring Wagon but were necessarily heavier and stronger. Nearly all of them were equipped with brakes to assist the horses in stopping their heavy loads. Most were open on the sides and equipped with drop-down curtains. Many of them were designed to include baggage compartments; however, the one pictured here does not. It is likely that the Crawford House sent along another freight wagon to transport the luggage of their guests. Photograph is taken from the Huckleberry Farm Carriage Sale Catalog of October 4, 1980, and used with the kind permission of Martin Auctioneers, a Featured Sponsor of our Web Page.
(The vehicle shown here, built early in the 20th century, spent the last days of its life transporting school children..)
The Omnibus was a popular commercial carriage in both North America and Europe. It was a public vehicle designed to carry large numbers of persons at one time. They were manufactured in a wide variety of sizes. Its name (from the Latin omnis, meaning all) was born in Paris where a bath house operator ran one that he called L’Omnibus. Some even included roof seats to enable even more passengers to board. A 1902 history of the Omnibus by H.C. Moore (Omnibuses and Cabs, Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London) contains a great deal of important information about the development and use of this carriage. This photograph is taken from the CALGARY CARRIAGE COLLECTION, published by the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company, Ltd., and used with their kind permission.
(Photograph is taken from the THE CARRIAGE COLLECTION AT THE MUSEUMS AT STONY BROOK* published by the Museums at Stony Brook (1986) and used with the kind permission of the Museums..)
Brass, copper, nickel and other plated metals gleam brightly off the surface of this 1874 Steam Pumper. It was built in New Hampshire by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, which was one of the best known of the producers of these fire fighting vehicles. Its 1960 restoration is impeccable. The pumper’s original home was in the fire department of New Orleans, Louisiana. It weighs over 9,000 pounds and was quickly returned to its manufacturer when it proved too heavy and clumsy to be maneuvered around New Orleans’ narrow streets. Vehicles of this size were likely drawn by 3 horses harnessed abreast. The engine could pump as many as 900 gallons per minute.
(Photograph is taken from the THE CARRIAGE COLLECTION AT THE MUSEUMS AT STONY BROOK* published by the Museums at Stony Brook (1986) and used with the kind permission of the Museums.)
Biehle Wagon and Auto Body Works of Reading, Pennsylvania built this commercial delivery and sales carriage, probably in the last decade of the 19th century. The wagon remained in the possession of the family of the company’s founder until the Stony Brook Museum purchased it in 1955. The rear doors, which cannot be seen in this photo, have oval windows. Notice the extension top and open front and sides surrounding the driver’s seat. Canvass storm curtains could be attached and drawn down on either side of the driver. The body of the carriage sits on 3 elliptic springs and a reach connects the axles.