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This remarkable collection of horse-drawn vehicles was once the private collection of James Richard Thrasher. Mr. Thrasher (or Jim as he was known to friends and family) was born in Midland, Maryland in 1913. He was the oldest son in a family of eight boys and three girls.

 

Jim’s family settled permanently in the Midland area where his father was a blacksmith. Throughout his childhood, Jim was constantly around horses at the “smithy”. His love of horses developed early since he was not only surrounded by horses at the “smithy” but also because the Thrasher family owned several.

 

After completing the eighth grade at the Midland School, Jim quit school and went to work for the Llewellyn Brothers’ Dairy, where he started out capping the glass milk bottles. He worked in the milk processing plant for the next seven years.

 

At the age of 21, Jim left the dairy business to take advantage of a job opportunity offered to him by a friend. He left Midland to go to Somerset, Pennsylvania to work in a coal mining operation. During the next few years, Jim worked in both the deep mines and strip mines.

 

Having “learned the ropes” in Pennsylvania, Jim returned to Midland before World War II and continued to work in the mining industry. About this time, Jim acquired one of his first carriages. A banker and friend in Lonaconing, Alex Sloan, gave him an Extension Front Brougham in appreciation for a loan that Jim had extended to the bank during the Depression. After the war, Mr. Thrasher became involved in additional business interests including the construction industry.

 

By the early 1950s James Thrasher was recognized as a successful businessman and was well respected in Allegany County. He was also an excellent father, and was busy raising three girls and two boys on a farm near Midland.

 

Although Jim accumulated several hundred horse-drawn vehicles over the years, it was not until his children were mostly grown that he began to avidly collect carriages. During the next thirty years of his life he traveled all over the United States in order to purchase carriages from private collections, auctions, and estate sales. Mr. Thrasher was a well-known figure in the carriage community.

 

Not only did James Thrasher collect and restore these carriages, he also had a keen interest in driving them, thus preserving a forgotten way of life. Many Allegany County residents fondly remember that Jim never missed a parade to exhibit a piece in his collection. Jim was an avid owner of registered Morgan horses and it was not uncommon to see him with his favorite Morgans driving one of these vehicles down the road between Midland and Lonaconing. In addition, several of these vehicles have “claims to fame” having been used in movies or to carry government dignitaries.

 

In 1975, Mr. Thrasher leased the Midland School from the county and opened a museum to showcase the carriages and carriage accessories he had amassed. The museum remained open until 1987 when James Thrasher passed away. Upon his death, Allegany County government purchased the collection from his estate, thus keeping it intact. Chosen for its proximity to other tourist attractions, the current museum site in Frostburg was opened at the Depot Center in 1991.

 

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