Himmelberger Wagon Works - 1885-1920s - Reading, Pennsylvania


To provide good service on its home delivery routes, a Berks County laundry had Reading's Himmelberger Wagon Works build a custom body on a new 1915 electric powered chassis from the Commercial Truck Company of Philadelphia.   Today it is frequently seen moving silently across the grounds at museum special events.  Franklin R. Himmelberger, the well known carriage and wagon builder of the borough of West Reading, was born near Centre township, Berks county, Feb. 5, 1861, son of Daniel P. and Rebecca (Richard) Himmelberger. Franklin R. Himmelberger was reared on his father's farm, where he worked until he was nine years old, after which he was hired out and worked for different farmers until he was nineteen years old, when he learned carriage blacksmithing from Daniel Rapp, the well-known carriage builder at Reading. He remained in Mr. Rapp's employ for six years, and in 1885 he opened a small blacksmith shop at the west end of the Penn street bridge, where he followed his trade two years. In 1887 he associated himself with George H. Smith under the firm name of Himmelberger & Smith, and this firm existed for a period of thirteen years, engaged in carriage building and general wheelwrighting, being very successful from the start. When the Belt Line was built through West Reading, it passed through this firm's property, and the firm was mutually dissolved. Mr. Himmelberger built a large plant at the corner of Second and Cherry streets, West Reading, to which he has been adding ever since. The first buildings were erected in April, 1901, but the constantly increasing business has demanded much larger quarters. The main building is 40 x 100 feet in dimensions, four stories high, with cement basement. There is also a four-story repository 48 x 60 feet, and several other annexes making the total amount of floor space about 36,000 square feet. He employs from twenty-five to thirty-five skilled mechanics, and he makes a specialty of market and delivery wagons, heavy wagons and light pleasure rigs. His establishment is equipped with all the latest improved machinery, drying oven, ware houses, shedding, etc. Besides handling all kinds of vehicles Mr. Himmelberger carries a complete line of harnesses, blankets, whips, etc. He does work for a number of prominent business men, such as Kline, Eppihimer & Co., Leinbach & Bro., Sternbergh & Son, Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, W. H. Ludens, Whitners, Mould's, undertakers Seidel & Henninger, George F. Baer, A. L. Rhoads and many others. He is a thorough business man, and is the largest individual carriage builder in the county. In March, 1882, Mr. Himmelberger married Alwilda Gabriel, of Earlville, later of Reading, daughter of Evan and Elizabeth (Becker) Gabriel. Four children have blessed this union: Libbie V., Beulah R., Ruth A. and Martha M. Socially Mr. Himmelberger is a member of Fidelity Chamber No. 5, Knights of Friendship; and Camp No. 212, P. O. S. of A., both of Reading. In politics he is a Democrat. When West Reading was incorporated into a borough, and the people were looking for a conservative man for their first chief burgess, they unanimously selected Mr. Himmelberger for that responsible position, May, 1907. The work of his administration has been marked by progress and by a business-like conduct of affairs, giving great satisfaction to the people. With his family Mr. Himmelberger belongs to the First Reformed Church of Reading, in which he is a member of the consistory, holding office since 1889. He was confirmed in Belleman's Union Church in Centre township in 1876. He is a consistent Christian gentleman, and is regular in his attendance at divine worship.



For more information please read:

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks


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