Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to School History of Transporation

Did you know that the first "school bus" came into existence in 1827?  Yes, long before the automobile there existed the horse-drawn school carriage.  The very first "school bus" was designed to carry 27 children for a Quaker school in London.

First "School Bus" by Schillibeer in London

In the United States, a company called Wayne Works (and later known as Wayne Corporation) began manufacturing farm implements in 1837.  It is unclear, even in Wayne Work's own history as to when the manufacture of horse-drawn carriages began.  What is known is that by 1886 Wayne Works was manufacturing horse-drawn school carriages.  For the most part, prior to 1886, children were transported to school by farm wagons.

Wayne Works c 1868 School Hack
per WayneWorks picture from Nation's Schools

Interestingly, in Massachusetts circa 1869, the first legislation was passed to use public funds to pay farmers to transport students.  (   Horse-drawn school carriages were known as "school hacks" (hack being a certain type of carriage); "school trucks", "school cars", and "kid hacks".
Florida School Hack c 1989

The entrance to the carriages were through a rear single-door door entry so that the children would not startle the horse while loading and unloading.  

Florida School Hack c 1900

Some school districts even had a fleet of school trucks.

Early fleet of school trucks

In Northern climates during the winter children were transported by sleigh.  Believe it or not, a horse-drawn school carriage often did the job.

circa 1925, South Winn, Maine
copyright Lincoln Historical Society, item 34755

In 1914, Wayne Works put a wooden kid hack onto a automobile chassis and the fore-runner to the modern-day school bus was born.  While not the first to transport children via motor buses--they are recognized as the largest manufacturer of school buses.  Early models maintained the same design of a rear single-door entry.

Early School Bus with Rear Entry
picture from Wikipedia

Early Wayne motorized School Bus
per WayneWorks picture from Nation's Schools

Wayne Works was one of the earliest school bus manufacturer to replace the canvas window shades with windows circa 1930.

Wayne Works c 1930 School Bus
per WayneWorks picture from Nation's Schools

Even modern school buses retain the rear single-entry door now used for emergency exit.

What is your favorite memory about your trip to school?  Did you ride in a school bus, walk, or get a ride?

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(An Old Irish Blessing)

Marian McCoy Boveri
Specializing in Historic Homes
Keller Williams Fox Valley Realty pictures of Florida school trucks @


  1. Thanks for sharing this info! I love looking at pictures of times gone by! My home schooled children (ages 8 & 6) are wishing they could have gone to school back then. They are always wanting to ride on a bus, but a horse-drawn bus would be even better!

  2. I had fun looking at the pictures! Nice job!

  3. Thanks Mandy. I do agree--while a ride in school bus would be an adventure, a ride in a horse-drawn bus would definitely be an experience. Did you know that they actually had stoves in the buses in the colder climates? I kept thinking that it must have been cold in those buses until I discovered a picture of the interior of one with a stove in it!

  4. Thanks Joni! I had fun finding them too.