World War I ambulance on display at Living History Day


Living History Day, sponsored annually by the Three Rivers Historical Society and held at the Historical Museum, will this year feature a restored ambulance wagon that was typical of what was used to attend to the sick and wounded, transport supplies, and haul troops during World War I. This will be the first time this particular ambulance is available for public viewing.

The ambulance wagon will travel to Three Rivers from Lake Elsinore in Southern California. It is under the careful watch of the Buffalo Soldier Mounted Cavalry Unit, of which Jay Collins of Three Rivers is an active member.

The ambulance wagon, of which there are just 19 remaining, is based on an 1838 design of those used during the Civil War. It was built, however, from a 1909 Studebaker horse-drawn wagon. Although most of these historic wagons are today in museums across the country, the one to be on display at Living History Day is fully functional.

Interestingly, Studebaker produced military vehicles and equipment for every conflict since the Civil War. While previous wars relied on horse-drawn vehicles, Studebaker’s World War II defense contracts included engines, trucks, and amphibious vehicles.

The ambulance wagon coming to Three Rivers will be used during events such as this, historical reenactments, and in parades. While here, it will be part of the Buffalo Soldier encampment that will include soldiers in authentic reenactment uniforms, tents, and artifacts.

Other activities during the event include historical demonstrations, activities for children, and vendor booths. A barbecue tri-tip lunch will be available for $8 and an a la carte peach cobbler for $3.

Living History Day will be held Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free. The event is open to the public. 

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