The Heidrick Ag History Center recently added five new pieces to their already extensive display of rare agricultural history — five fully functioning passenger buses built to replicate eras of the teens and twenties. The 1912, 10 passenger Rambler; 1918, nine passenger Packard; 1921, 21 passenger Franklin; 1924, 21 passenger White Yellow Stone; and 1929 11 passenger, Ford AA were all built and used by Mr. Toad’s Tours of San Francisco, and have now been donated to become a display of early twentieth century school transportation for rural students. Read more about their use at Mr. Toads here.
In the early 1900’s, most rural areas of the United States were served by one-room classroom schools, requiring students to travel by horse-drawn vehicles called “kid hacks,” short for hackney carriage. A typical kid hack would serve all the farms in the area of the school, and usually transport under 20 children. As early as 1914, trucks such as the Rambler and Ford Model AA on on exhibit were considered to be the predecessor to the modern yellow school bus, when detachable wooden hacks were placed on modernizing motor trucks, however, it wasn’t until 1932 that Gillig manufactured an all-steel school bus, complete with safety glass windows, built on a White truck chassis just like the one now included in the exhibit.
In the future the museum would like to use these road-worthy vehicles to showcase in local parades, events and farm tours, however insurance and DMV fees are estimated in the thousands of dollars range for each. This will only be possible with local support through memberships and private donations. To learn more about the evolution of rural California farm communities and how you can get involved, visit http://www.aghistory.org, or call 530-666-9700.