Written By Sherwood Kohn

Things obviously moved at a slower pace 100 years ago. It is not a law of nature, but sometimes when you try to reproduce something that was built in the past, you import something of the old timeline.

That was what happened when a group of Carroll County letter carriers decided, as part of a public relations campaign for the U.S. Postal Service, to reproduce the 1899 wagon that provided the first Rural Free Delivery service to Carroll County.

The group, co-chaired by Carl Parks and Bill Francis, both carriers with the Finksburg Post Office, was called “MR FUH” in honor of its component towns: Manchester, Reisterstown, Finksburg, Upperco, and Hampstead.

But they ran into problems finding someone to do the job. By the time they started the project, it was too late to finish it for the 100th anniversary of the service. Finally, in 2000, MR FUH found Amish wagonwright Elam Fisher, owner of Double E Carriages of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, who agreed to build a “post office on wheels” based on plans provided by the Carroll County Historical Society.

As it turned out, Fisher had other priorities, and it took him five years to finish the wagon. And at a cost of $18,000, which MR FUH, now known as the Carroll County R.F.D. Wagon Committee, is still trying to raise money for. They have raised about two-thirds of the total cost.

The wagon, however, is on display at the Carroll County Farm Museum. It is an exact replica of the original, designed by countywide service founder Edwin W. Shriver, built by the Herr Brothers of Westminster for $1,375, and featuring counters, drawers, and 58 letter boxes, all packed into an elegant navy blue vehicle with yellow spoke wheels.

Despite the glacial pace of its construction and the fact that its financing remains incomplete, Carl is delighted with the result. “It’s been a good and fun project,” he said.

And by the way, if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution toward the cost of the wagon, you can mail a check to the Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157 and specify that it is for the Post Office on Wheels. Or you can contact Carl at P.O. Box 632, Finksburg, MD 21048-0632 or Cparks632@aol.com. S.D.K.