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.
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.
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.
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.
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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