Joseph Murphy Wagons

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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Joseph Murphy is arguably one of the most legendary early wagon builders in America.  Located in St. Louis, Missouri, he dated the beginnings of his firm to 1825.  As one of the earliest, prominent wagon makers west of the Mississippi, his legacy is often tied to his purported construction of monster-sized freighting vehicles for use on the Santa Fe Trail.  While little period evidence currently exists to help corroborate this information, Murphy freighting vehicles did have a significant presence in the West, from Santa Fe to the plains and beyond.  I covered more specific details related to Murphy freighters in my presentation at the Colonial Williamsburg – CAA vehicle conference earlier this year.
Mr. Murphy is also often credited as a man of strong quality convictions and this characterization can be confirmed.  In addition to historical profiles written during the nineteenth century, our Wheels That Won The West® Archives contain several exclusive and original documents that validate Mr. Murphy’s reported obsession with quality.  In fact, his commitment to excellence apparently began long before the construction of the vehicle and even before his first hand evaluation of the wood being used.  Joseph Murphy had strong expectations from the raw materials he purchased and within several original letters written by him we find very detailed, explicit instructions as to how and when to cut the specific wood types he required.
As part of our own commitment to excellence in research and vehicle identifications/evaluations, we’re pleased to help confirm hard-earned legacies like those of Joseph Murphy.  It’s a passion of pursuit that continues to help locate even more lost artifacts and details related to America’s early, heavy vehicle industry.
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