Presto Changeo! Farmer’s Magic: Summer Wagon To Winter Sled

The Sunny South wagon and bobsled pictured is part of the ‘working collection’ used on a 130-acre historic site operated by the Mercer County Park Commission as a “living history” farm where visitors can learn about the lifestyle, buildings, and crop/livestock operations commonly seen in rural New Jersey (USA), circa 1900.  

In keeping with the cost-saving practices of many farmers of the times, the wagon body or box that is shown on running gear (wheels) is transferred onto a set of bobs (sled) during the winter, so that seasonal work can be done without the need to purchase two boxes.  For example, the standard “10-foot 6-inch box with bottom bed, 14 inches deep” that sold for $9.85 in the 1907 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue (see below), was made in 38” or 42” widths to fit on gear or bobs with bolsters of equal width.  Farmers could buy a deeper box for an additional $.85, a “high grade spring seat” for $1.85 and a “box brake attached” for $1.80.  At Howell Farm, farmers are careful to avoid transferring the box from the bobs to the gear too early, for fear of causing a Spring snow.

Pete Watson, Director, Howell Living History Farm & Pleasant Valley Historical Park, Hopewell Township, New Jersey, USA