RAYMOND, Wash. — A horse-drawn road grader, a mail cart, a running gear and other working-class vehicles have a new home next door to elegant luxury carriages as the Northwest Carriage Museum’s addition opens to visitors.
Lovingly nicknamed The Barn, the addition gives the museum another 2,560 square feet on the floor for its growing collection; the loft, viewable from the floor, provides an additional 1,300 square feet for lighter vehicles such as sleighs.
Just in time, too. The grader and the mail buggy will soon be arriving.
The running gear, the tractor-trailer of its day, is already on display. It was used to build Washington State Highway 7 between Morton and Tacoma. It had an extendable reach and was used to deliver lumber or haul logs.
The wooden vehicle was stored in a barn in Roy, Wash., for many years. Curator Jerry Bowman said it was covered with moss when he got it. He spent hours cleaning it.
“I didn’t want to change the patina and the coloring, so all I really did was use linseed oil-turpentine to preserve the wood,” he said.
The road grader is part of a donation of six vehicles from a Medford family. The collection includes a freight wagon, a buckboard and other vehicles.
The mail buggy delivered mail from 1871 until the early 1900s in Cornelius.
Welcome to The Barn
The Barn was designed to stand in blue-collar contrast to the finely appointed luxury carriages in the original building. Even the new concrete floor has been treated to give it an aged and well-used look.
Decorating the walls are the collars, harnesses, bellybands, tugs and shafts that connected the vehicle to the engines, literally the horsepower.
“This is just stuff we had in boxes that we never were able to display,” he said.
The museum started in 2002 with 20 pieces. It’s up to 38 with eight more on the way.
The addition has gotten good feedback so far.
The Barn is highly visible from U.S. 101, and that’s brought in more visitors. On April 25, 125 people attended the Barn Raising grand opening at the museum.
“We’re just drawing so many more people now,” Bowman said. “We’ve become a destination point. For the first time, North Pacific County has a place that people are coming from other places to see.”
The museum draws about 5,000 people a year; Bowman aims to double that in the next three to four years.
Museum surveys find that 80 percent of visitors come from 50 miles or more out of the area.
“We’re bringing economic value to the community as a result of those people coming in and seeing it,” he said. “That’s neat for our local businesses and our families, because let’s face it, we can use all the help we can get around here.”
Funding for The Barn came primarily from a grant from the state. Additional funding was provided by the Cheney Foundation, the Forrest Foundation, the L.V. Raymond Foundation and Weyerhaeuser.
The addition and new vehicles help broaden the museum’s appeal.
“Everyone has a different level of appreciation of what (they’re) looking at,” Bowman said. “Some look at (the original) collection and say, ‘It’s unbelievable how it’s restored.’ There’s other people that come in and look at the (1888 stagecoach) and say, ‘That’s the neatest piece you have in the museum.’”
Just don’t ask Bowman to choose.
“I love ’em all. … It just depends on your personal preference.”