Woolly, no; Mammoth, YES!: The World’s Largest Horse

A black and white photo of a massive horse dwarfing two full-grown men.

This picture is said to show Mammoth, the Guinness Record holder for largest horse. While the photo is not confirmed and may be too new to be the authentic record-holder, it certainly depicts an outrageously large horse as a reference point for Mammoth’s impressive size!

Did you know the world’s biggest horse lived in the 19th century? Originally named Samson, Mammoth was a Shire horse gelding born in 1846 at Bedfordshire, England. Towering at 21 hands and 2 ½ inches (about 86 1/4inches), the horse was aptly renamed Mammoth, and he weighed a hefty 3,360lbs! By comparison, many cars don’t even weigh that much: For instance, a 2022 Honda Civic weighs between 2,877 and 3,077 pounds, depending on the model.

Fun fact… the average 1000 lb horse drops about 31 lbs of manure and 2.4 gallons of urine per day. I would not have wanted to be in charge of mucking Mammoth’s stall!




We never “tyre” of history: The Tire Shrinker

Large cast iron tire shrinker toolA 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.

The Chuckwagon: have kitchen, will travel… portable living before #vanlife

Chuck Wagon Coffee Tipper over a campfire at Northwest Carriage Museum

Chuckwagon Coffee Tipper over the campfire

When I look at a chuckwagon, I see much more than a range kitchen. Sure the kitchen was there for all the meals, coffee and biscuits for breakfast, beans, biscuits, meat, cobbler and coffee for supper; when the chuckwagon was set up there was always a pot of strong coffee brewing. But the chuckwagon was so much more to the cowhands far from home. While the cowhands were responsible for moving the herd, “Cookie” and his chuckwagon were responsible for moving the cowhands. The trail boss was officially in charge but it was “Cookie” who was always respected, never talked back to and issued most of the orders. After all, he not only fed you but also mended your clothes, had the medical supplies, moved your bedroll and belongings to the next camp, provided the entertainment, provided a place to wash up and shave and, most importantly, always had that pot of coffee going to rinse the trail dust from your throat. On a special occasion, “Cookie” might even break out a jug for a little nip of whiskey. Yea, you never wanted to be on the wrong side of Ol’ Cookie!

A group of school kids listening to the curator talk about an 1890s chuckwagon and life out on the range

A field trip lesson about life on the range

The chuckwagon history is interesting. At the end of the civil war, lots of people were moving West and the market for beef expanded greatly. Cattleman, recognizing the need to move large herds without the help of railroads, developed the “trail drive” concept. Moving 1200 to 2000 head of cattle with 10 to 12 cowhands was not easy. Out on the trails for months at a time, these young men endured many hardships but it was “Cookie” and the chuckwagon at the end of the day who supplied the needed comfort. The chuckwagon was the gathering place, and sitting around the campfire, eating a meal, sipping some coffee, the cowhand was home.


A black and white historical photo of cowhands eating on the ground in camp in front of a chuckwagonCredit for the chuckwagon goes to Charles Goodnight, a Texas rancher also known as the “father of the panhandle,” who invented it in 1866.  Chuckwagons were built on numerous wagon running gears: ours is an 1890s chuckwagon built on a Spingfield Wagon Company gear. Springfield Wagons were known for their quality and durability, were marketed as “The Old Reliable” wagon, and were built from 1873 to 1951. This chuckwagon was used by its previous owners at chuckwagon food competitions throughout the Southwest and has won awards for its authenticity.


carriage museum's 1890s chuckwagonIf you haven’t seen her, come on in for a visit… our chuckwagon is a real beauty!



A Racy Piece of Washington History

Jockey Bench from Langacres Racetrack in Tacoma, WA, now at its home in the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond, WA.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 theBlack and White Photo of Longacres Racetrack Crowd and Starting Gate on Labor Day, 1933. 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 wasLongacres Racetrack Vintage Illustrated Poster in a private collection until gifted to our museum several years ago. Oh… if that seat could talk!