Aside from our incredible collection of horse-drawn vehicles, we have so many other fascinating artifacts to look at in the museum. Here is a “pole” or “spoon” shovel hanging in our Wheelwright/Blacksmith shop. These shovels were commonly used in the early 20th century (1910 to 1940) for digging telephone/power poles. They were replaced with electric augers or power digging machines. Some handles were over 10 feet long. These long spoon shovels were used by 10 to 12 man crews along with spades (pointed shovels) and steel bars to dig deep power pole holes.
Does anyone remember the old redwood water tower out on the South Fork of the Willapa River? We don’t have the tower itself, but we do have two beautiful Northwest Carriage Museum signs made from the original water tower redwood hanging above our front doors. These incredible pieces of artwork were designed and created by our good friend and wood carver, Jeffro Uitto, out in Tokeland. Jeffro is a woodworking extraordinaire and a man of many talents, you should see the magic he works with driftwood! His work is known throughout the world. Come take a look!
A tire shrinker (originally spelled “tyre”) was an important tool in the blacksmith/wheelwright shop back in the day of horse drawn transportation. Also known as an “upsetter,” the tire shrinker was used to resize the metal band that went around the wooden spoked wheels of buggies, wagons and carriages. When the hub and/or spokes dried out due to age or weather, the metal band, called a tire or tyre, became loose. The tire would be removed from the wheel, heated, and put into this machine. It would then be “upset” or squeezed leaving a small bulge which would be hammered flat and trimmed on the edges. This process created a tire which was slightly smaller in circumference. At this point, the tire would be reinstalled on the wheel. Our tire shrinker was once part of a blacksmith shop in Oklahoma and is a remarkable piece of American history.
Our old wooden wagon seat is an incredible piece of Washington State history.
The Longacres Racetrack in Renton was founded in 1933 by Seattle Real Estate magnates Joseph Gottstein (1891-1971) and William Edris and designed by B. Marcus Priteca. The track’s storied history is amazing. State legislation allowing pari-mutuel betting was passed in early 1933 and signed into law by Gov. Clearance Martin on March 13, 1933.
The track closed to live racing on September 21, 1992. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, “Before the last race, announcer Gary Henson told the crowd, ‘These horses belong to you. Listen to their final thunder.'” Then, for probably the first time in track history, the race was run in silence, without Henson’s customary calls (September 22, 1992). More than 23,000 fans crowded the stands to see Native Rustler, ridden by Gary Stevens, win the final race.
For many years, our wagon seat was part of the decor in the jockey’s locker room. Over the years, hundreds of jockey’s used the seat for “booting up” before a race. The seat was removed during demolition of the track and was in a private collection until gifted to our museum several years ago. Oh… if that seat could talk!