2016 CAA & Colonial Williamsburg Horse Drawn Vehicle Symposium

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
Published on:
All imagery and text is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved. The material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written permission from David E. Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
Share This Blog:
After almost a week in Virginia, it’sgood to be home; back to familiar surroundings and the comfort of normalroutines.  Even so, we enjoyed a greattime with gracious hosts and several hundred attendees at the CAA’s 2016conference.  The weather was reasonablycomfortable for the time of year, making it nice to get out and take in thesights of Colonial Williamsburg. Ultimately, I’d rank the 2016 CAA Symposium at Colonial Williamsburg asone of the best early vehicle events I’ve attended.  The organizers assembled an incredible arrayof speakers from around the world.  The end result was a vast amount of information shared; so much, that it easily overwhelmed mynote-taking abilities. 

Blacksmiths at Colonial Williamsburg work on all types of projects - from wagon axles to door hinges.
This circa 1750 Newsham & Ragg fire engine is housed in the Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg.  Along with other artifacts, it offers an extremely rare look at early American fire equipment. 
This silver pitcher (labeled as a porringer) from a tea service will date to the late 1700’s.  It was produced in Paul Revere’s silversmith shop.
Spread over four days, the eventincluded fourteen speakers from the U.S., Norway, England, France, Austria,Canada, Russia, and Germany.  On thesurface, it might sound like so much diversity that continuity and cohesionbetween the presentations would be a challenge. On the contrary, each presenter built on the intrigue of another.  From the subtle humor of Alexander Sotin ofRussia and Colin Henderson, the Queen of England’s retired head coachman, toAndreas Nemitz’s coverage of the breath-taking views and adrenalin-pumpingdrama of coaching through the extreme heights and switch-back roads of theAlps, the international flavor of the event created a fullness to the topicsnot typically available.  I also enjoyed thewealth of details in talks by Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner, Laurier Lacroix,Stephan Broeckx, and Bjorn Hoie. 

The images Mr. Nemitz shared of the coaching tours over the Alpswere equal parts beauty and adventure, rolled into what is surely the experience of alifetime.

For years, Colin Henderson served as the head coachman to Her Majesty, the Queen of England.  It was interesting to see so many different royal coaches.
Those speaking on topics relating toAmerican stage coaching as well as U.S. military and western vehicles included KenWheeling’s review of touring coaches in New Hampshire (I always try to be asponge around Ken.  His knowledge of Americanstagecoaches – especially Concords is unmatched).  Michael Sanborn, from the Banning Museum inWilmington, California, shared about the Banning Family Carriages (coaches) ofCatalina Island.  Michael’s talk left mewanting to visit Catalina Island to view the historic terrain and survivingcoaches there!  Similarly, Josh Ruff,from the legendary Long Island Museum collection of vehicles, shared about theuse of the Talley-Ho road coach in New York City. 

Ken Wheeling’s presentation on touring coaches included details on all types of Concord stagecoaches.  Good stuff!
Immortalized in song and steeped in history, the story of Santa Catalina Island and its coaches was presented by Michael Sanborn, Director of the Banning Museum in Wilmington, California. 
Greg Hunt, an acclaimed harnessmaker/repairer from Wisconsin, spoke on horse-drawn military tack.  The presentation included the overall designpurposes of that equipment as well as more detailed evaluations of artilleryharness and McClellan artillery and riding saddles.  Greg also shared specifications related toperiod Escort wagon harness.  Likewise,we received a number of kind words for our presentation covering theoften-overlooked designs and technology in early western wagons and militaryvehicles.

Greg Hunt’s presentation on military tack delved into a rare, and often misunderstood, topic.
Josh Ruff, of the famed Long Island Museum (Stony Brook Vehicle Collection), spoke on the Talley-Ho public coaches once used in New York.   
As educational and helpful as all of thetalks were, one of the segments was especially emotional.  SSG John S. Ford shared some rare,behind-the-scenes details related to the ceremonial horse and caissonpresentations provided in Arlington National Cemetery.  You’ve likely seen these processions before,as six horses draw an original, model 1918caisson holding the casket of a dignitary. From presidents to ranking officers as well as those who have given theultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, the caisson platoon provides thisremarkable measure of respect to all branches of U.S. military service.   Due to the unique nature of this topic, Ihope to share even more from this presentation in an upcoming blog.  Suffice it to say, if you love America andthe liberty we’re afforded here, the caisson platoon is one more reminder ofhow special and valuable the gift of freedom truly is.  In like fashion, we salute the service menand women who guard our independence, preserving a blessed way of life we shouldnever take for granted.

SSG John S. Ford’s presentation on the ceremonial horse and caisson processions in Arlington National Cemetery was more than informative.  It was an incredibly emotional and patriotic salute to the fallen heroes of America’s armed services.
Thanks again to the CAA, Jill Ryder,Jennifer Singleton, Mindy Groff, Ken Wheeling, and Richard Nicoll for theirsupport and assistance during the conference. A special shout out to Stan and Kay Stefancic who made sure that ourtrips to and from the airport were worry-free. 

The CAA conducts this symposium everytwo years in conjunction with the wonderful folks and impressive campus ofColonial Williamsburg.  If you have anopportunity to attend the event in 2018, I’d highly recommend the trip.  

Please Note:  As with each of our blog writings, all imagery and text is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.  The material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written permission from David E. Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives.
Go Top