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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pontiac in Oakland County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Versatile Vehicles

Pontiac's Early Carriage Industry

 
 
Versatile Vehicles Marker image. Click for full size.
By J.T. Lambrou, May 28, 2021
1. Versatile Vehicles Marker
Inscription.  Horses did all the work in Pontiac's early days.
By 1850, several builders of "horse-drawn" vehicles — wagons and carriages — had workshops around Lawrence Street, using wood cut at lumbermills powered by the Clinton River. Carriage-makers soon spread throughout Pontiac and became a major industry by 1900 at a time when Michigan was the fourth-largest producing state. The Pontiac Buggy Co. was one of the biggest operations but many others were busy building and shipping wagons, carriages and sleighs too. The most successful of these businesses were primed to build "horseless" vehicles as Pontiac's remarkable auto industry was born at the start of the 20th Century.

You Auto Know
Pontiac was an ideal carriage-making center due to its rail network, nearby lumber supply, mills, and closeness to Detroit.

Pontiac Wagon & Carriage Makers

From 1870 Street Directory
B.A. Rice
J. Adams
J. Crawford
Page & Pither
R.D. Scott
Wm. Parsons & Bros.

From 1902 Street Directory
A.P. Bowman
Acme Vehicle Co.
C.V. Taylor Co.
Cresenct Carriage Co.
Dunlap
Versatile Vehicles Marker image. Click for full size.
By J.T. Lambrou, May 28, 2021
2. Versatile Vehicles Marker
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Vehicle Co.
Hodges Vehicle Co.
Imperial Buggy Co.
O.J. Beaudette Co.
P.W. Hayward
Pontiac Body Co.
Pontiac Buggy Co.
Pontiac Phaeton Co.
Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works
Standard Vehicle Company
Union Buggy Co.

Others
Baumgartner Body Works
Chapman & Johnson
Horace Gray
King Bros.
Mortimer Smith
S.J. Cloonan
Willard C. Palmer
Wolverine Carriage Company

Upper left image caption:
The "Bike Surrey" in the Dunlap Vehicle Co. catalog, about 1900. It was described as having "lamps, rear seat fenders, rubber padded steps and special pattern dash."
Image courtesy of the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society

Left image caption:
Top: Some complex and varied horse-drawn vehicles are shown in front of Pontiac's central firs station in 1867.
Photo courtesy of the Pontiac Public Library.

Bottom left image caption:
Carriages and wagons along Saginaw Street in downtown Pontiac in the late 1800s.
Photo courtesy of the Pontiac Public Library.

Middle image captions:
Top: A high-end carriage in front of the Myrick-Palmer House on West Huron Street, about 1900.
Photo courtesy of Ron Gay.
Bottom: Hard-working horses and a wagon at the demolition site of the Congregational Church on the corner of Saginaw and Huron
Versatile Vehicles Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, June 13, 2021
3. Versatile Vehicles Marker
View of the marker from the Clinton River Trail looking east across Bagley Street.
Streets, about 1900.
Photo courtesy of Ron Gay.
Right: The Union Buggy Co. was a carriage-maker on Saginaw Street.
Image courtesy of Ron Gay.

Bottom image caption:
The Standard Vehicle Company on Osmun Street, near Woodward, was built in 1901 and in 2014 still stands abandoned. Like many carriage businesses, it closed after automobile manufacturing took over.

Right image C. V. Taylor Co. workers with buggy parts before assembly, about 1900.
Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Brieer.
 
Erected by Motorcities National Heritage Area, National Park Service.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the MotorCities National Heritage Area series list.
 
Location. 42° 37.8′ N, 83° 17.753′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Michigan, in Oakland County. Marker is on Bagley Street 0.1 miles south of Wessen Street, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located across the street from the Clinton River Trail trailhead. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pontiac MI 48341, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Newman African Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wessen & Bagley (approx. 0.2 miles away); Automobile Financing
Versatile Vehicles Marker image. Click for full size.
By J.T. Lambrou, May 28, 2021
4. Versatile Vehicles Marker
Photo taken from marker position showing trailhead
(approx. ¼ mile away); First Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); St. Vincent de Paul Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Pontiac's Coach Builders (approx. half a mile away); Building Trucks In Pontiac (approx. half a mile away); From Trail To Pavement (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 30, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 30, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan.   3. submitted on June 15, 2021, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.   4. submitted on May 30, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 18, 2021