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Bob Lind, Published September 26 2013

Neighbors: Request for stories, photos about horse-drawn school vehicles brings big response

A request for pictures and stories of the old horse-drawn vehicles that took kids to school years ago has drawn many responses.

The picture shown here is one of many sent in or which were on the Web and were referred to by Forum readers.

This picture was sent in by Alvin Swanson, Moorhead. It’s of a restored wagon like the one Alvin rode to the Oak Mound school near Kragnes, Minn.

In 1913, Alvin writes, three one-room schools consolidated into the Oak Mound school, and three wagons and three sleighs were purchased to transport students to it.

The Oak Mound 4-H restored one of those wagons in 1952 as part of its 50th reunion. It and a sleigh now are at Bonanzaville, West Fargo. Alvin says the original wagons supposedly were made by Studebaker.

But he says he never heard of these vehicles being called hacks.

Chuck Fremstad, West Fargo, says the website Shorpy.com had a picture of a 1937 hack from Williams County, N.D.

Donald Tobkin says all these stories of horse-drawn school vehicles reminded him of his school days in the 1940s when he lived near where he now lives, about 10 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Donald was the oldest of six children. He went to first grade in 1945.

“On some really cold winter mornings,” he writes, “my father harnessed the team and hooked onto a conventional four-runner sled with a hayrack on it, and we would huddle under a large ‘horse-kind-of’ blanket and off we went to school

“My father would hang another ‘horse-kind-of’ blanket over the front of the hayrack to break the wind and we huddled down behind it.

“If it was at all reasonably possible, we would walk the two miles to and from school throughout the whole school year.”

Those were the days, Donald.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com