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Collector Has Spent 50 Years Preserving Stagecoaches, Wagons
Bill Nigg says “one thing just led to another” to explain his life-long hobby of collecting and restoring horse-drawn stagecoaches and buggies. “I went to a rodeo when I was just a kid and saw a pony team hitched to a covered wagon, and that really sparked my interest,” Nigg recalls.

    Over the past five decades, Nigg has owned dozens of horse-drawn vehicles, including single-top buggies, wagons and two stagecoaches. “It’s a sickness there is no cure for,” he says about his hobby.

    As he neared his 80’s, Nigg reached the difficult decision to reduce his vehicle inventory and sold a dozen or more large pieces to one museum and a few individual wagons to other museums. Nigg is a lifetime member of the National Stagecoach & Freight Wagon Assn., a “not-for-profit organization created to help detail the triumphs, struggles and day-to-day operation of these legendary vehicles.”

    A high point of Nigg’s hobby was a cross-country journey in 2008 with 50 other wagons and coaches to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Deadwood Freight Wagon Stagecoach Trail. Nigg and his wife, JoAnn, traveled in a restored Abbott & Downing stagecoach, “the largest one I ever owned,” he says. He purchased the coach from a collector near St. Louis and says it still has all the original hardware, including springs made from leather and canvas curtains that roll down to keep out the elements.

    Starting from Fort Pierre, S. Dak., the Niggs and their friend, Doug Hanson, navigated the stagecoach 240 miles to Deadwood, S. Dak. “Doug did most of the driving,” Nigg points out. The couple traveled 17 days across prairie grass, rocks and streams, much like early settlers.

    Stagecoach travel is definitely not as simple as it may appear to some, Nigg says. “Hitching horses to a stagecoach is a hard and dangerous job. A person can do it alone, but we were lucky we always had extra people to help with the hitching.” The couple says they are happy they made the journey because “we made a lot of wonderful friends that we still see.”

    It has been a great hobby over the past 50 years, Nigg says. “We’ve owned a lot of antique vehicles over the years, and our collecting philosophy has always been, keep the best and sell the rest.”

    Although Nigg makes fewer appearances than in the past, he is looking forward to appearing in a 2016 Browns Valley, Minn. parade when the town celebrates its 150th anniversary.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Nigg, P.O. Box 324, Browns Valley, Minn. 56219-0324 (ph 605 694-2747).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4