2012 CAA/CWF International Carriage Symposium

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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Simply put, the 2012 CAA/CWF International Carriage Symposium that took place in Colonial Williamsburg January 11th - 14th was an extraordinary experience.  It seemed like virtually every facet related to horse drawn vehicles – historical to modern day – was covered in this showcase event. 
Hosted by the Carriage Association of America and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the 4-day gathering drew conservators, historians, writers, collectors, driving competitors and horse drawn vehicle enthusiasts the world over.
I was honored to be one of fourteen speakers from the U.S., Russia, Sweden, Canada, England and Switzerland.  It was all part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Carriage Association.  Our Wheels That Won The West® presentation covered the heavier, box style wagons that permeated the American West from 1850 through the turn of the 20th century. 
While at Colonial Williamsburg, we had the opportunity to examine a great deal of history -  including a pair of early Virginia road wagons.  The wagon with the blue box shown here is known as the Minnick-Zirkle ‘waggon’ and is a rare, surviving freight wagon believed to have been built around 1810-1812.  You can read more about the provenance of this wagon in the book, Adventures of a Waggon Tracker, by Franklin Zirkle.
There were several other speakers sharing details related to period American wagons including Tom Lindmier's excellent presentation on 19th century military vehicles.  Also intriguing was an informative program by Thomas Kinney covering early city/business wagons.  Leading conservator, Brian Howard from Pennsylvania discussed a number of fascinating conservation projects that he and his firm, B.R. Howard & Associates, have completed - including work on the legendary Studebaker "Aluminum Wagon" built for the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the Lafayette carriage which, like the Aluminum Wagon, is housed in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. 
Surrounded by so many vehicle experts and so much history, this was a first class event with a great deal of insightful information to offer.  My heartfelt thank you and congratulations to the Carriage Association of America and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for producing and hosting such a powerful and important symposium. 
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