Stoughton Wagons

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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As I traveled the historic Dakota plains, my mind beganto wander, easily imagining early life on this picturesque part of the Americanfrontier.  The driving wind, cold winterair and below zero harshness of this country seemed at odds with the majesticcolor and splendor of the accompanying sunrise. It’s a backdrop of beauty not easily overlooked as I made my way to researchyet another survivor from America’s legendary wagon makers.  Passing a tractor-trailer rig, I caughtmyself smiling.  The iconic brand name onthe back of the trailer was Stoughton. Ironically, this modern, well-known builder is a relative of the very wagonbrand I was en route to see.  

The Stoughton Wagon Company carries a storied legacydating back to the end of the Civil War. The beginnings of the firm are actually rooted in another legendarywagon company, T.G. Mandt.  Like many ofhis peers, Mandt’s early successes were recognized by investors who became involvedin his company in Stoughton, Wisconsin. As time progressed, Mandt desired more latitude in business anddecision-making than the corporate structure inside his company wouldallow.  Taking his name and numerouspatents, he left and started his own firm once again. 
The thriving Stoughton factory that had built somany Mandt wagons quickly made the transition to building their own brand,known as the Stoughton.  With a broad distributionnetwork already in place, the company immediately took a prominent andcompetitive role.  The Stoughton wagon Ihad the opportunity to examine still holds the majority of its vibrant, originalpaint.  It will likely date to the lateteens of the 20th century and was sold by Olaf Melby of Summit,South Dakota.  
The wagon has been used very little and stillcarries a substantial amount of original, hand painted striping along with its ornate,stenciled logos and crisp wooden contours on the box and gear.  Each of the wheels is equipped with dodgemortised hubs.  It’s a design Stoughtonconsistently promoted as being stronger and better reinforcement for thefoundation of the vehicle.  Complementedby a 14/16 wheel spoke combination and extra cross sills supporting the box, thisnear-century-old set of wheels provides an excellent look into America’s earlytransportation industry.  As asignificant, large-scale brand, the Stoughton Wagon Company is among a host oflegendary makers coveted by early vehicle collectors and enthusiasts.  While the company may be best known for theirfarm and freight wagons, Stoughton also built a line of carriages, springwagons, sleighs, one horse wagons, and sheep bed wagons.  Their products were built for a wide range ofneeds for farms, ranches, and businesses throughout the U.S.
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