History Hero: Arthur Reist
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania Arthur Reist is a farmer, an auctioneer and a keeper of an extraordinary collection of historic objects. Just enter one of his barns and you might feel like you have stumbled on a warehouse owned by the Smithsonian. We first met Arthur researching the Conestoga wagons. Unlike the prairie scooters and old farm wagons used by emigrants crossing America on the Oregon Trail, the large Conestogas were used for one thing: freight. Developed in the Conestoga River Valley in south central Pennsylvania around 1750, they were used to transport crops and raw materials into the big cities of the Colonies — Philadelphia, Baltimore, and eventually on the trail west to the Ohio River. The wagons could haul six tons and are known for being curved at each end, to keep cargo from shifting or falling out. Before canals and trains, modern semi trucks and freeways — this was the backbone of commerce. There are only a few original Conestoga wagons in existence, and Arthur owns five of them — part of a collection started by his father years ago. Meet Arthur and his most prized wagon in our program under construction in our program “Old Wagons of the Great Road West.” And you will see his Conestoga that was used by George Washingtons troops in that brutal winter of 1777 at Valley Forge.
Subscribe to Watch it All
Subscribe to Saving Americana and get access to all of our Big Stories and other Episodes too!
“History Heroes” are profiles of people young and old we meet along the way sharing their love of the past.