Early Years: In 1915, the "Wisconsin Carriage Company," which had the reputation for building quality buggies, carriages, sleighs and cutters, realized that the introduction of the automobile was adversely affecting their historic business. So they put their efforts into the design and manufacturing of coaster wagons, "skudder" cars and other sidewalk toys. It was at this time the company decided to name this spinoff group "Janesville Products Company". Their toys were sold by the thousands and gained a nationwide reputation. Toys were advertised regularly in such national publications as the "Saturday Evening Post".
Early Coaster wagons featured ball bearing spoked wheels and nickel-plated dust caps. This "speed-wagon" also sported a seldom-used brake. The body of the wagon was made with select white ash and was offered in three sizes. Prices for a Coaster wagon in the 30's ranged from ten to twelve dollars. Several of the original wagons remain in use today; many are reportedly in demand as collectors' items.
The Janesville Coaster was advertised as the wagon that "has more speed, gives the boys more fun. Keeps them out in the open, builds strong, nimble bodies and quick-acting minds. Runs so easily it makes play of hauling heavy loads of groceries, coal wood, ice, milk cans, etc."
But the depression hit and although "Janesville Products" attempted to build a less expensive wagon, and even produced a prototype of a pinball machine, the factory closed in 1940.
A new generation: In 1978 a retired businessman seeking a special gift, a wooden wagon, for his first grandson, realized that the Janesville coaster wagon that he remembered so fondly and treasured as a child was no longer being produced. Armed with a sketchpad he went to the community Historical Society and sketched an authentic Janesville wagon that was on display. He then dissected the remains of an original wagon discovered in a friend's garage and from those remains and sketches, built what was to become the first "Wisconsin Wagon Company's" Janesville Coaster Wagon.
The Series II is a detailed replica in design and construction, and incorporates all of the features that made the original so popular. Material changes with the current wagons consist of using solid red oak and stainless steel hardware. But ball-bearing wheels, our trademark, has been continued to enable our wagon to roll smoothly through the years. Each is registered and has a numbered nameplate under the dashboard so future generations can determine the age of their heirloom.
Through the years our collection of wagons has grown. We currently produce four different size wagons. From our tiny Tag-a-long to the heavy duty Islander Goods wagon, all of our wagons are hand built with pride.