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Waterloo Wagon Co.; Waterloo Bodies Inc.
Waterloo Wagon Co. Ltd., 1881-1920s; Waterloo Bodies Inc., 1920s-1932; Waterloo, New York
Associated Builders
Hercules-Campbell; Mid-State Body Co.

The Waterloo Wagon Co. Ltd. was formed in 1881 and reorganized in the early-twenties as Waterloo Bodies Inc. When the firm closed down in 1932, the plant was purchased by Robert Campbell, becoming the Mid-State Body Co.

William L. Pike, the Waterloo Wagon Co. Ltd.’s founder, was born on January 9, 1853 in Richmond County, New York. He learned the wagon-building trade as an apprentice and moved to the Onondaga County town of Tully, New York in 1870. It was here that he and two partners established the firm of Pike, Smith & Walsh. Pike & Walsh eventually succeeded the older firm and in 1881, moved their operation to the Seneca County village of Waterloo, New York, renaming it the Waterloo Wagon Co.

One of Pike and Walsh’s partners in the Waterloo enterprise was William N. Morrell. Morrell was born in Ripon, Yorkshire, England, on February 17, 1850. He learned the carriage manufacturing trade with his father, and came to the United States in 1869, locating in Rochester, New York where he worked for the Cunningham Carriage Co. He returned to England in 1875, and following a 4-year hiatus returned to the Cunningham Co. in 1879. Two years later he joined Pike and Walsh in the formation of the Waterloo Wagon Co.

In 1885 Pike sold his share of the firm, and moved to Tompkins County becoming general manager and secretary of the Groton Carriage Co. of Groton, New York. Morrell became its principal owner and president, reorganizing it as Waterloo Wagon Co. Ltd.

Waterloo advertised in many of the period’s largest periodicals. One early ad read as follows:

“Waterloo Wagon Company Limited,. Seneca Co. N. Y.

If you want an honest job, buy a Waterloo Phaeton, Surrey, covered or open buggy, manufactured in twenty-seven styles. We use no poor stock in our factory and challenge the world to show a bill of inferior goods bought by us. Mr. Pike and Mr. Walsh, members of our company, are skilled workers of wood and iron and are expert carriage manufacturers. They are directly interested and devote their whole skill and energy to secure perfect work, and are backed up with money enough to buy and pay for the choicest selection of material.


That is, we have never had to replace a single wheel - they are all made under our direct supervision. Every hub, spoke and felloe is carefully inspected. Anchor axles, oil tempered springs, bolts. Norway Iron that can't be broken - we make work that we take pride in selling, and we believe there are intelligent buyers enough who are willing to pay for an honest job to warrant us in keeping up to the highest standard and we mean to do so. We can prove that our work and material are seldom equaled and never excelled in strength and quality. We could save five dollars on each set of wheels, and the same proportion on other essential parts, and no man could tell the difference when the wagon was new. A shoddy wagon that can be sold for the cost of raw material in one of our vehicles will look very nice until it goes to pieces Some dealers will not keep our because they can buy shoddy wagons cheaper, but we don't make that kind. If jour dealer won't get our wagons for you, come and look through our show rooms and factory, and yon shall be satisfied. We don't and won’t use anything but the best. Send for catalogue and prices.


A smaller advertisement appeared in Century Magazine during 1889:

Hung on our patent Half-Elliptic
At very low prices. Write for catalogue.
Mention THE CENTURY. Waterloo, N. Y.

A clever advertisement from a 1896 Harpers Magazine:

Ah there! Mr. Bicycle man,
With your bicycle built for two,
You’ve had your fun in the summer time,
In the winter time what will you do ~

I will buy me a Waterloo Sleigh,
As the goods and the prices are right;
And in matters of finish and style,
They are known to be quite out~of~sight~

Waterloo, New York.

By 1900, Francis Bacon, the president of Waterloo’s First National Bank, had assumed ownership of the Wagon Works. Bacon declared personal bankruptcy in 1904, but kept the Wagon Works going using loans garnered from First National and the Exchange National Bank of Seneca Falls, New York.

The Wagon Works started offering commercial bodies for Ford Cars and trucks in the late teens, changing their name to Waterloo Bodies Inc. in the mid-20s to reflect the new direction of the firm.

Waterloo’s suburbans were popular, and many were built for Ford Model T, TT and Dodge Bros. light truck chassis. Waterloo Bodies Inc. was listed as manufacturer of dump bodies in the Commercial Car Journal’s 1930 directory and the firm survived until 1932 when its Waterloo plant was purchased by Robert Campbell and turned into the Mid-State Body Co.

When Waterloo Bodies Inc. closed their doors in 1932, Henry W. LeClear, Waterloo’s manager, sent his curriculum vitae to Campbell, the owner of the Hercules-Campbell Body Co. of Tarrytown, New York.

In the early days of the Depression Campbell realized that he needed to find a less-expensive source of suburban station wagon bodies in order to compete against the budget-priced Ford Model A. Henry W. LeClear, the manager of Waterloo Bodies Inc. had been acquainted with Campbell for a number of years and let him know that he was looking for a job as his Waterloo, New York employer was closing its doors.

Campbell traveled to Waterloo to inspect the facility in January of 1932 accompanied by his Vice President, a Mr. Vincent. Waterloo offered them an abundant supply of cheap skilled labor as well as convenient access to the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The pair made an offer to the factory’s owner, papers were signed and LeClear was hired to ready the plant for production. Mid-State Body Co. Inc. was soon shipping finished suburbans and knocked-down van bodies to Hercules-Campbell’s busy Tarrytown assembly plant

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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

Donald J. Narus - Great American Woodies and Wagons

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

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