Later this month, on March 18, the Friends of Auburn Heights presents Behind the Steam: Mountain Wagons at 7pm online. Featured contributors will be the Collection on Palmetto in Clearwater, Florida, and the Seal Cove Auto Museum of Mount Desert Island, Maine. For this month’s question, we researched the early history of the Marshall Steam Museum’s Stanley Mountain Wagon.
Tom Marshall has written extensively about the use of the Stanley Mountain Wagon while owned by the Marshalls. Clarence, traveled to Cochituate, Massachusetts, to purchase the 1915 Model 820 Mountain Wagon from George Monreau for $1,700 in 1946. The vehicle had originally been owned by the Litchfield Shuttle Company of Southbridge, Massachusetts.
While we don’t have detailed records of exactly how the Model 820 was used by Litchfield Shuttle Company, we know that the term mountain wagon was first used to describe shallow wooden wagons pulled by horses that featured of multiple bench seats for hauling passengers. These wagons were well-sprung for a comfortable ride and included a canvas top as a sunshade.
How do you think the Model 820 Mountain Wagon might have been used by Litchfield Shuttle?

If you are a reader of Tom Marshall’s writings, you may remember Tom writing that when the Mountain Wagon arrived at Auburn Heights, it came with angled side boards and had been used to haul logs out of New Hampshire. During Auburn Heights tours, we often mention that the Mountain Wagon started life as a lumber vehicle in New England.

Litchfield Shuttle Company was founded in 1843 by Pliny, Festus C., and Leroy Litchfield for the manufacture of loom shuttles! Initially known as the L.O.P. Litchfield and Company, in 1878 the company was granted incorporation under Massachusetts law as the Litchfield Shuttle Company. The initial capital investment was $21,000, and by the start of the 1900s, Litchfield had become the largest shuttle and shuttle-iron manufacturer in the country. Litchfield made shuttles for weaving cotton, wool, silk, linen and jute, along with bobbins. With changing weaving technologies, wooden shuttles were no longer in demand, and the company closed down in the early 1950s after the factory contents were sold at auction.

According to company history from the Quinabaug Historical Society, Litchfield initially made shuttles from Persimmon Wood due to its hardness. The company eventually changed to Dogwood before settling on Applewood for its superior hardness, tight grain, and ease of machining qualities for making shuttles. There are references to combing the New England states for quality Applewood that would be sorted through and premium prices paid.

Litchfield might have used the Mountain Wagon for hauling high-quality Applewood to their plant in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Additionally, one can envision the Mountain Wagon loaded with wooden crates of finished shuttles being taken to the railroad station for shipment a short distance from the factory.