Harness and Saddle Shop

Old Cowtown Museum Tour

Harness and Saddle Shop

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Old Cowtown Museum


The Harness and Saddle Shop in the Business District at Old Cowtown Museum represents the key business in the transportation system in the 1870s. The trade and craft of the saddle and harness business was crucial support for transportation in early Wichita. The importance of the manufacture and maintenance of the saddles and harnesses to cowboys, farmers, and townspeople is apparent. New saddles, bridles, and harnesses were in demand, as were leather straps, buckles, hooks and other hardware (called findings) used by persons doing repairs of their own.

Wagon freighting was an important business in early Wichita. The economy of early Wichita was dependent on goods transported from the industrialized East. Hides, machinery, and grocery supplies were among the items shipped in trains of up to ten or fifteen wagons, to and from Wichita.

After the arrival of the railroad in 1872 transportation of people and goods was still dependent on team drawn vehicles to outlying areas, as well as from one establishment to another in town.

The number of saddle and harness shops did not decrease when the railroad arrived in 1872, but increased along with the growth of industry and population throughout the 1870s. By 1875, the four saddle and harness shops in Wichita had a combined net profit of approximately $47,000. Smith & McComb Bros. competed for the local trade by listing a newspaper ad assuring readers,

All Work Manufactured in the Shop, under the special superintendence of the proprietors. A large Stock of Saddles, Harness, Bridles and Collars, Constantly on Hand.

The Wichita City Eagle, June 6, 1878

This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour


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