RAYMOND — About two years ago, an old unrestored box sleigh was donated to the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond. It has now been fully restored.
“The wood on this sleigh was in very rough shape,” Museum Director Laurie Bowman said. “The dashboard was broken and several floorboards were damaged and loose. Remarkably, the sleigh still had its original maker’s tag, which indicated it was made by the G. W. Fisher in Machias, Maine.”
Museum Curator Jerry Bowman recently completed a full-body-off restoration of this little sleigh. The sleigh’s body was disassembled from the runners. Numerous bolts were cut off and eventually replaced. The dash and floor boards were repaired using much of the original wood. Runners were repaired and needed pins replaced. The entire body and runners were painted and some pin-striping was added. Once reassembled, the seat was beautifully reupholstered to its original look, Laurie Bowman said.
Research on G.W. Fisher was difficult, she said. Through his normal channels and contacts, Jerry Bowman was unable to find much information on this maker, which led him to contact a local genealogist and historian in Machias. With her help and by searching census records from the 1800s, it was determined that George William Fisher was born in Machias in 1851 and died in Lubec, Maine in 1909. His first wife, Lillie Livingston, died in 1886 and his second wife, Jessie Campbell, lived until 1938. All three are buried in the Court Street Cemetery in Machias. George’s occupation was listed as blacksmith and carriage maker in both the 1880 and 1900 census.
This beautiful box sleigh is now on display at the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond, along with 42 other historic horse-drawn vehicles. On tours, Jerry Bowman likes to tell visitors, “If only this little sleigh could talk, imagine what we might learn about life in the 19th century!”
If you enjoy history and museums, a visit to the Northwest Carriage Museum is a must. It is located at 314 Alder Street in Raymond. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Group tours are always welcome. For more information, see www.nwcarriagemuseum.org or call 360-942-4150.