THE OWENSBORO WAGON COMPANY

I caught a piece in a “Shopping Guide” the other day, someone wants to sell a wagon made by the OwensborO Wagon Company, Owensboro, Ky.

Man! The piece was described as having the original paint scheme of Forest Green and Yellow logo “OwensborO Wagons” on each side.

Red wheels with white stripes even!

My eyes popped out, my ears picked up and I beat a hasty retreat to the computer.

As I recall, my research indicated a relative worked as a blacksmith in a wagon place in Owensboro!

I found Iverson B Ware as a blacksmith in a Navy yard during WW1. He fit the right time frame, as I discovered later. I believe the B was for Boswell.

From Google I find——

The company was incorporated under the Owensboro name in 1884.

The company area included a large lumber yard and a 12 fire blacksmith shop. Iverson SURELY must have worked there. Or am I dreaming?

Records indicate that at it’s peak in 1910 they could produce 30,000 wagons, and 10,000 buggies per year. Not bad!

Known as the Rolls-Royce of farm wagons, it was sold in several foreign outlets.

In the 1890’s  pay at the time was, imagine, $1.37 per day, per 60 hour week, for approximate 400 employees. A 1900 OwensborO wagon, $850.

By 1940 the company was “reduced”, my words, to making trailers for trucks.

When it closed in 1951, they were making “coolie carts” for China.

It has been estimated that during the company’s life time, I million wagons of ALL kinds rolled from their shops.

Not bad for a sleepy little Ohio river town!

Their building was razed in 1999 to make way for a parking lot.

What’s funny to me is, I was born in Owensboro in 1924, moved away in 1939, and wasn’t until recently that I ever heard of Owensboro wagons.

I suppose I was too busy watching the tow boats on the river, and dreaming of being a river boat pilot myself one day. Ah, yes, those were the days!

RW 5/5/10


Comments

THE OWENSBORO WAGON COMPANY — 13 Comments

  1. My Grandfather made 1/2 and 1/4 Owensboro Wagon replicas for years. He even made the spoke wheels with the metal bands holding them together. They are beautiful. We have wondered if these could be donated to any museum in my Grandparents names. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  2. My dad is wanting to sell his Owensboro wagon that was purchased by his dad after the war in 1940’s. It has been stored in the barn and is in good condition. He is just not interested in fully restoring it now and wants to find someone who does. Currently in middle Tennessee. Kinderhooklivery@hotmail.com

  3. I was at a auction this last Saturday in Lawrenceburg Ky and was able to purchase 4 wagon wheels that I believe are from an owensboro wagon. They are 42 inch and 36 inch. They still have red paint on all the spokes and a black strip that runs down each spoke and across one side in front. Does anyone have any ads that might show what these wheels looked like new. I would really appreciate any info on this.

  4. I have just completely restored one of the old OWENSBERO farm wagons. It was in terrible condition..left to the weather for decades. I was able to buy it for $80.00..but ALL the original wrought iron hardware was intact! The wheels were set in cement..(to prevent theft) it had to be busted out with sledge hammers..loaded on a flat bed and hauled over hy’s 20 miles. We used all the original pieces we could..and made patterns of all the rotten wood into new. Wondering how to post photos..new to this Blog..and any others. cliff

  5. We have an OwensborO farm wagon which
    our father purchased before 1951.It is
    still in very good shape.I can email
    photos if anyone wants to see it.
    I`ve enjoyed reading about the history
    of the Company. Thanks, Don

  6. Yesterday, Tuesday, April 3, 2012 I found one in an old barn. near Owensboro. The only thing missing is the bed.. everthing else, the wheels, axles, frame, tongue are alll there, it just needs the box portion on top, (the bed with the side rails. JJ

  7. I lived in Owensboro for sixteen years before moving to Fl. While living in Owensboro I had a neighbor that worked and retired from there. I do not know what year he retired. His name was Frakes I forgot his first name. In fact my brother worked there for a short period of time of which Mr. Frakes trained him. My brothers name is David Nelson. He currently lives in Georgia. I have a wooden nickle that my neighbor Mr Frakes gave me when they were having an anniversary as to the length of time they had been in business. The nickle has on front, the head of an indian and the words wooden nickle. On the back it has Feldhaus-Schwartz Company Farm Equipment “Owensboro’s Volume Dealer” Oldsmobile-Industrial Motor Trucks. Sales and Service 683-5393. I don’t know if this is of any signifance to you but thought I would let you know. Thatnk you for letting me comment.

  8. hello…
    i ran across this site when searching for articles on the owensboro wagon co. my grandfather, richard hal compton owned the wagon co in owensboro when it closed. not sure when he bought it. i’m just starting the research but sure wish i still had my mom and gma to ask. i hould have paid attention. lol

    you mentioned you were from o’boro. my other grandfather owned the feldhaus-schwartz co. they sold oldsmobile and international-harvester. he died in 1958 and my dad took it over then sold it when he retired in the late 1990’s.

  9. I just purchased a wagon (freight I believe) red with white trim. I have o idea how old it is. It is in great condition with very large wheels and about 15′ long possibly 5′ wide. Where on the web that I could find out? Thanks!

  10. That’s a whole bunch of wagons and buggys to make in a years time. Wonder if Henry Ford got his idea of a rolling assembly line from this company? Could be. Great article Ray

    Wayne

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