MIFFLINBURG — After years of sitting in an old deteriorating barn, a buggy made in the 1800s has found its way back to the shop where it was built.
As a tour guide at the Mifflinburg Buggy Museum, Gary Coddington, of Mifflinburg, said he was made aware by museum volunteer Sue Sampsell that the buggy was for sale on eBay for $2,000.
Coddington said, “I watched the eBay site for about a month… If the buggy went down to $500 I was going to buy it.”
“I didn’t want to have to pay $2,000 for it,” he said.
Coddington said the online auction continued for several weeks until one day he noticed the price had dropped to $750.00, with a “Buy it now,” designation beside it.
Coddington talked to his wife Judy about the drop in price, and she advised him to go ahead and purchase the relic if he wanted it.
So he clicked “buy it now,” and ended up purchasing the buggy.
Coddington said the buggy was located in the Lock Haven/Jersey Shore area and owned by a young couple. He said the couple bought the buggy previously at a yard sale in Linden, Lycoming County.
The interesting thing about his purchase, Coddington said, was the fact that if he had waited even 10 minutes longer to click “buy” on eBay, he would have lost the Central Pennsylvania treasure to someone who wanted to buy it from Washington State.
Coddington said the Buggy spent several months in his basement until he decided to donate it to the Mifflinburg Buggy Museum.
Codding says the buggy sat in the Museum’s repository for several years till the Museum came up with the money to have the buggy restored.
According to Coddington, the mechanics of the buggy worked fine, however the cart showed its age and needed repainted as almost all the original paint had peeled off.
Coddinton said he knew he had a treasure due to the tag on the back seat of the buggy. Coddington says he showed the buggy to Owen Heiss, grandson of William Heiss the buggy’s original manufacturer. He confirmed it was a Heiss original.
The buggy was taken to Issac Reiff, of the Vicksburg Buggy Factory, who restored the paint on the relic. Coddington said, “everybody loves it.”
He said Reiff did a great job in matching the original paint colors and fine decorative touches on the carriage. The cost of the restoration Coddington said was somewhere near $5,000.
Coddington said an agreement was reached with the museum to have the buggy become a lasting part of the museum and Mifflinburg heritage.
“They were going to pay for the restoration so the agreement was to give the buggy to the museum,” Codding said, adding that he’s not sure what the value of the buggy is now.
William Heiss operated the WA Heiss Coach Works, in Mifflinburg, from 1883 until the turn of the century. The Mifflinburg Buggy Museum today encompasses the Heiss family home and factory.
From 1883 to 1920, William A. Heiss manufactured carriages, wagons, and sleighs. When his buggy business declined he sought out other opportunities to make a living. Among those occupations were furniture maker, beekeeper, and automobile painter.
After William’s death in 1931, the building was used for storage and the contents were forgotten.
Almost 50 years later, the doors were opened to reveal the original shop with tools, machinery, forges, and parts. It was as if William Heiss had simply walked away.
Coddington said the museum is open Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 1 to 4 pm, until the last Sunday in October when it closes for the winter.
He says there are three original buggies at the museum along with several sleighs that were built at the one time factory plus all the tools and implements used in the manufacturing process.
The Buggy Museum is located at 598 Green St., Mifflinburg. The museum hosts a modern Visitor Center, which features an introductory video, self-guided exhibit, hands-on workbench, gift shop and restrooms. It also offers guided tours through the Heiss family home, the reconstructed carriage house, the original buggy factory and original showroom.