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Carriages

During the first three-quarters of the 19th century, most Americans did not own carriages. They were costly, and, with the exception of farmers, people did not have facilities for housing horses. Farmers simply used their farm wagons. In the 1870s, machinery was used in carriage production. At this time, the carriage was finally affordable to the average American family. There were a wide variety of carriage designs produced throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Unlike the automobile, carriage models were often popular for decades. Each one was handcrafted and quite expensive. Therefore, it is difficult to identify a time period in a historic image based upon a carriage design.

Following are some important dates that may be helpful in identifying the time period of an historic image.

Carriages were not common in Vermont until the 1870s, except among the very wealthy. Some popular carriage types are seen below.

Common 19th Centure Carriages Common 19th Centure Carriages

Common 19th Century Carriages: Images courtesy of Donald H. Berkebile, American Carriages, Sleighs, Sulkies, and Carts, 1977.

Common 19th Centure Carriages Common 19th Centure Carriages

Common 19th Century Carriages: Images courtesy of Donald H. Berkebile.

The pneumatic tube was invented in the 1890s. Some carriages with rubber tires were manufactured after this date.

Carriages with Pneumatic Tires Carriages with Pneumatic Tires

Carriages with Pneumatic Tires: Image on the left courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and Shelburne Farms. Image on the right courtesy of Donald H. Berkebile.

The average farmer could not afford a vehicle with springs until around 1900. Prior to this date, a simple farm wagon was used.

Farm Wagon

Farm Wagon: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and University of Vermont Special Collections

From the early 1900s to the 1910s, it was quite common to find both automobiles and carriages on the road together.

Automobiles and Carriages Together

Automobiles and Carriages Together: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Williston Historical Society

In the 1920s, the automobile largely replaced the carriage. However, in rural areas it was not uncommon to find farmers still riding in horse-drawn vehicles.

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