Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Mukseum of Transportation: St. Louis
THE MUSEUM OF TRANSPORTATION: ST. LOUIS
In the last 150 years we have made unbelievable gains in how we move ourselves and our stuff around. These advances in transportation are on display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County. The Smithsonian Institution recognizes this museum as, "one of the oldest and best collections of transportation vehicles in the world."
A railway car pulled by a mule, 5 cents a ride.
It's more than transportation that we learned about on our visit. For example, we saw a small railway car from 1870 which was pulled by a mule. The fare was a nickel, the driver was paid nine and a half cents an hour and three cents was spent each day in the winter to put straw on the floor to help keep the riders warm. In the interests of its welfare the mule only worked six hours a day.
Next to the railway car was a large produce truck that sold fruit and vegetables as it moved around St. Louis streets. This was a productive way of life until 1950 when supermarkets came into being and the peddlers went out of business. Different kinds of buggies and sledges were the older forms of getting around.
A horse drawn hearse
A collection of travel outfits of the old days along with travel equipment are on display. We were most impressed with the heavy fur coat that protected drivers against the winter winds given the openness to the air of old forms of travel.
We moved up the hill, past the Miniature Train Station where rides are available to the Lindburg Automobile Center. Having personally owned cars manufactured as far back as 1929, I always find these sections especially interesting.
A beautiful white 1923 Stanley Steamer was on display next to a old Pierce-Arrow motorcycle. The Steamer had a large water tank or boiler for an engine. It claimed it could run on anything that burned, was quiet, had few parts and didn't require gears. In the early 1900 they were more popular than gas engines. Companies stopped making them after 1924.
A 1920's Pevely Milk Wagon was a look back into my past. In the 1930's few people had refrigerators and glass bottled milk was delivered daily. One horse pulled the wagon and that horse knew the way. That is, the driver would take a batch of bottles and deliver to a number of houses and the horse would walk around the corner and know where to meet him.
An 1890's horse-drawn hearse had glass sides so the coffin could be viewed by the mourners as it was towed down the street to the graveyard. Since the coffin was to be on view, people would often put more expensive adornments on it than they could afford.
Further up the hill was the Roberts Pavilion with more than 70 locomotives and many train cars. According to the museum brochure this is the most complete collection of American rail power in the world. Frankly it was too much to see and understand. After walking through several old passenger cars and looking in some others, we moved on.
Special attention is paid to Owney, the traveling dog in a contest where you hunt for Owney posters throughout the museum and you win small prizes such as a museum coloring book or a free bag of popcorn. Owney was a mutt who wandered into an Albany, New York post office in 1888, and he ended up riding trains carrying mail. In nine years he traveled 140,000 miles around the United States. Later his friends at the post office arranged for him to travel around the world on a steamship. In July, 2011, Owney was honored on a U.S. first class Forever Stamp.
The museum is very interested in providing educational experiences for all grade levels. Classes can be arranged for school groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Produce trucks took the place of today's supermarkets.
A Stanley Steamer, note the large water tank in the front.