Out of the Museum

What is this three-legged item?

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Free: Donations always accepted

We were sorry to stump readers this week. It doesn’t happen often, but when we do stump you, we don’t like it. Since Studebaker has a local connection, we were surprised that no one gave us the answer as to where Studebaker originated and how it came into existence.

This week, we’re back to kitchen table items. If you know what the common three-legged item pictured above is, please send answers by Tuesday to Answers will appear in next week’s paper.

Last week’s mystery item

The sign for Studebaker Wagons, which hangs high in the Lincoln Area Archives Museum, is a tribute to John Studebaker, who built wheel barrels in Placerville in the 1850s. The museum’s Studebaker sign was donated by Gary Brockman of Roseville.

John Studebaker, born in 1833 near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the third of 10 children in his family. He had four brothers and five sisters. In 1836, the family moved to Ashland County, Ohio. Some of his brothers moved to South Bend, Indiana to open a blacksmith and wagon-building business.

 Studebaker caught gold fever at age 19 so he built a wagon and traveled with a wagon train to Dry Diggings in August 1853.

Dry Diggins was also known as Old Dry Diggins, Hang Town and, today, Placerville.

Studebaker soon discovered searching for gold was not profitable. Making wheel barrels, however, could become profitable. His wheel barrels were in demand. Studebaker saved his money the next few years. When he had $8,000, Studebaker returned east to join his brothers in making wagons. Studebaker was president of the business until 1917.

The business expanded into making carriages, electric carriages and automobiles. There were mergers along the way, a notable one being with Packard in the 1950s.

John Studebaker’s mark in Placerville is still celebrated today, according to Lincoln Area Archives Museum docents. Last month, the 74th John Studebaker Wheel Barrel Races in Placerville were held. The site of Studebaker’s shop, No. 142 California Historical Landmark, has a statute of the local legend and his famous wheel barrel.

This holiday week is a good time to visit the Lincoln Area Archives Museum. The museum is open between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at 640 5th St.