Historical society launches Coach and Wagon Rally

By Judy Henderson - ReminderNews
East Granby - posted Thu., Oct. 13, 2011
Tom Howard, a volunteer with the East Granby Historical Society, explains the complex restoration completed in 2008 on the society’s Massasoit and Newgate Stage. Photos by Judy Henderson.
Tom Howard, a volunteer with the East Granby Historical Society, explains the complex restoration completed in 2008 on the society’s Massasoit and Newgate Stage. Photos by Judy Henderson.

Blessed with one of the finest days in recent memory, the East Granby Historical Society launched its new fundraising event - “Hoof Prints in Time: The East Granby Coach and Wagon Rally” - on Saturday, Oct. 8, at East Granby Farms, where many visitors eager to not only glimpse but touch the past were not disappointed.

Front and center was the East Granby Historical Society’s own “Massasoit and Newgate Stage,” one of the oldest coaches in the country, while the farm’s front pasture provided the ideal backdrop for a host of 19th- and 20th-century horse-drawn carriages, coaches, and wagons - including many from the Suffield, East Windsor, and Manchester historical societies. Some were fully restored, and others looked just as did on the day they were retired.

There functions in society were varied: there was a funeral coach still in use after 150 years, a colorful cigar wagon, and an overland stagecoach - all restored by Jim Chevalier of Belchertown, Mass. An old meat wagon looked much as it had on its final round of deliveries through the countryside, as did many of the small buggies used by their original owners to get from here to there. A small sleigh, still polished to perfection, looked poised for one more winter outing.

Sharing the pasture were miniature horses, one tiny mule, an equally small donkey, as well as two very gentle mammoth donkeys, who provided the same leisurely rides they would have more than a century ago.       

Additional attractions included an authentic steam-powered fire engine built in 1895, a couple of outstanding antique cars, a shady little refreshment tent, and “The Gospel Guys” - a barbershop quartet from the East Granby Congregational Church. And while there were no lights or cameras, there was plenty of action inside the exhibit barn, where visitors arriving with personal treasures and high hopes stopped in for professional appraisals.

Said volunteer Ruth Westervelt, wife of the Historical Society President Bill Westervelt, “We started last February with an idea, and it’s taken a lot of time and coordination. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day!”


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