Time never rests, though, and sometime back in the 1940’s, this tired workhorse was pulled into the barn for the last time. Sitting silent and alone through another sixty or seventy years of freezing winters and hot, humid summers, the wagon had been a favorite target of mud daubers, mice, dust, and birds. Not to be outdone, the earth had slowly and deliberately devoured the lowermost felloes. The aged tires were worn incredibly thin, rolled over the edges of the wheel rims like fresh dough in a pan. The constant pressure of hard ground and heavy loads had pushed the steel tires to the brink while an even thinner pocketbook had kept them from being replaced.
Peering over the upper sideboard, the bed still held the dirty, brittle, and sweat-stained harness - last worn by a pair of mules long since gone and forgotten. Incredibly, the wagon had escaped being adapted for service behind a tractor. The near century-old tongue was solid, uncut, and still accompanied by the original Springfield-built doubletree and singletrees. The seat sat atop the box just as it was left. Through the years, it had been repeatedly attacked by water from a leaky roof. The end gates had also been ambushed by rain creeping in through another hole. Topping the rare, serial-numbered find, it was equally surprising that two original bows had remained intact and with the wagon for almost a century.
For many, this vehicle is a piece of the past whose time has come and gone. But, even with its working days done, it still has a lot to give. After all, totally original and complete pieces are increasingly hard to come by. Beyond the historical value gained by studying its makeup, this Springfield carries a rich, untouched patina applied over multiple generations. It’s a look and feel unmatched by new or restored pieces. By encompassing the years from 1872 through 1952, the Springfield Wagon Company managed to outlast many of its toughest competitors, including legendary wagon firms like Studebaker, Cooper, Bain, Fish Bros., LaBelle, Mitchell, and many more. Ultimately, discoveries like this one not only reinforce Springfield’s legacy, but help preserve the literal roots of America. How many more can we save?