A visit to the Batavia Depot Museum in Batavia, Ill., will reveal much more than train history. Visitors will also uncover wonderful agricultural and transportation history that combines the story of the Newton Wagon Works, the Batavia Body Company, Emerson-Brantingham Company and the American Gage and Machine Company of Elgin, Ill.
This history is represented at the museum by a wagon from the Newton Wagon Works and a salesman’s sample of a Batavia Body Company truck, which sold refrigerated truck bodies. The museum is located in a refurbished Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad depot that dates from 1854.
The approximately 3-foot-long Batavia Body Company truck was donated to the museum by the family of a former Batavia Body Company employee. Believed to be from the 1940s, the truck is pictured with a baseball team in a photograph from that era.
This interesting truck signifies one company’s history merging with another. Before the Batavia Body Company was making refrigerated truck bodies, it was a wagon company.
Newton Wagon Works
The Batavia Body Company began in 1852 as the Newton Wagon Works in Alexander, N.Y. The company was founded by Levi Newton in 1838. Newton started as a cabinet-maker, then moved onto woodworking and wagon making. After a fire destroyed his factory in 1854, Newton decided to move his family to Batavia where wagons had sold well over the years. The company was the first major industry established in Batavia.
The Newtons built a shop along the Fox River to make farm wagons which became a successful endeavor. They made 72 wagons the first year, and by 1887, it was one of the largest farm wagon companies in the United States, making 5,000 farm wagons a year.
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