When Army green was found beneath the topcoat of a blue farm wagon donated to the Paso Robles Pioneer Day Committee, the group’s members knew their hunch was right.
“(We) had a sneaking suspicion that it was actually an Army escort wagon,” Pioneer Day Committee chairman Wade Taylor said.
The buggy may have been used in the Civil War or Spanish-American War, but its owners aren’t certain and are looking for clues as they chip away the newer paint.
“I suspect it was built in the very late 1800s or early 1900s,” Taylor said, explaining that metal hardware was used to construct it, while early Civil War wagons used wooden hardware. They’re now trying to find the manufacturing stamp on the wagon because that would increase its historical value, he added. Its rear wheels are stamped with the Studebaker brand, he added.
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In conducting research about the war wagon, Taylor learned that the animal-drawn buggies were used during and after the Civil War to transport troops and equipment with either two or four horses or mules.
The Central Coast Woodworkers Association is restoring the wagon for the committee and is seeking donations to complete the renovations; donations may also go toward the committee’s renovation fund for its stock of 30 to 40 wagons.
The renovated war wagon will be in Paso Robles’ Pioneer Day Parade in October.
The late Gene Rambo donated the wagon, then considered a farm wagon, to the committee in the 1970s. Rambo, a resident of the Parkfield area east of San Miguel, drove the wagon in the Pioneer Day Parade in years past with two oxen.
“We read on the Internet that some of these wagons were painted blue for Army dress parades,” said Keith Williams of the woodworker group. “So maybe that’s what happened to it.”
Its renovations will include an authentic period-designed cover, restored brake blocks, a hardwood seat and a spreader bar, Taylor said. Once restored, the wagon could be worth up to $9,000, Taylor guessed.