Antique doctor’s wagon rounds out collection at M&M Farms

By Katie Harris

The Surveyor

Three years ago Berthoud’s Bill Markham set out to find a chuck wagon to display at M&M Farms in east Berthoud. The farm, which Markham owns with his wife Elizabeth, has supplied barley to Coors Brewing Company for half a decade and is often utilized by local businesses for special events.

“I went to see an old friend in Yuma, Colo., looking for a chuck wagon and nothing else,” said Markham. “He had an old Conestoga wagon that just needed the chuck box, along with four other wagons, all beautifully restored.”

Photo by Katie Harris – The doctor’s wagon, Bill Markham’s sixth wagon, is a mid-century doctor’s buggy.

Markham set out to purchase one wagon, but came home that day with five, after the seller and his wife persuaded him to give the wagons the home they deserved lest they fall into the hands of someone more interested in displaying them out in the elements to slowly deteriorate.

“We came to an agreement on a price, and I came home and talked to the whole family about it,” said Markham. “Everyone said, ‘Dad, buy them all.’ It was a unanimous decision.”

The proud, if impromptu owner of five antique wagons set to work making their former owner proud, taking one wagon to High Country Beverage to be on permanent display, another to Brookside Event Center for weddings, and a couple more out to the Greeley Stampede. The Markham family even pulled the chuck and freight wagons on trailers behind John Deere tractors in Loveland’s Corn Roast Parade, stacked 12 feet high with hay bales and corn stalks, to win first place in the parade out of 128 entries.

With the restored wagons proving to be a hit, both out-and-about and back home at the farm, Markham soon decided it was time to expand the collection once again. Recently he brought home his sixth wagon, a mid-19th century doctor’s buggy from Racine Wagon and Carriage Company.

“I looked for a doctor’s buggy for quite a while before I found one on the auction to add to my wagon collection,” he said. “It looked pretty rough when it was on auction, but we’ll restore it all ourselves when we have time.”

Wheels that spent most of their lives in dirt, and perhaps underwater at times; a seat upholstered in stiff, timeworn leather, in desperate need of conditioning; and a body begging for a cleaning and a coat of paint can’t detract from the allure of the more than 150-year-old buggy.

“It’s in great shape for as old as it is,” said Markham. “One thing we’d really like to do is find the top for it.”

The Markhams plan to get in touch with someone from the Racine Wagon and Carriage Company, as well as some Amish acquaintances, in the hopes of finding a top to match their new acquisition. Once the buggy’s cleaned up and reunited with its top, Markham’s next step is to invest in a harness horse.

“I don’t have a team of horses for any of the wagons because we haven’t had the time, but now that we’ve got the doctor’s buggy we’d like to have it set up for events out here and let people get pictures taken,” he said. “It would look so neat if they had a horse on the front. We won’t take the buggy out on the roads, but we’ll take it around here, on the property.”

With harvesting season right around the corner, and a packed schedule of private events coming up at the farm, restoring the old buggy might not be a speedy process, but Markham’s determined to see it through.

The restoration on these old wagons, especially the freight wagon, is just beautiful, some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We’re going to try to see if there’s any more information we can get on the doctor’s buggy, and we’ll get it cleaned up and ready to take out before long.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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