Washington County School Bus Goes to Smithsonian Museum

1939 Dodge School BusThis 1939 Dodge School Bus has been on display in the “America on the Move” exhibit in Washington, D.C. since the 1980’s. The bus body was built in 1936 by the old Carpenter Body works in Mitchell, Indiana and sits on a 1939 Dodge Chassis.

It was driven to the old Martinsburg Grade School from 1940-46 by the late Russell Bishop of Washington County. It was later sold to Lester Jones of Palmyra who gutted it and made a peddling wagon out of it selling groceries door to door for many years. In 1982, Carpenter Body Works again acquired the old bus and began a restoration of the bus which took many years to complete.

The restoration was supervised by Ollie Eager who had originally been Carpenter’s Plant Manager in 1936. The bus has an all steel body making it much safer those earlier models. At that early date, school buses were painted a double deep orange unlike the bright yellow of today. The son of the original owner, Russell Bishop, Jr. remembers riding with his father on the bus route even before he was old enough to go to school.

In those days the seats sat with the backs against the outside walls of the bus body with another row of seats down the middle. Bishop said the restored bus at the Smithsonian in 2003 and said it look just like it did when his father drove it except the restored seats were covered in a brown/tan leather but the original seats were black.

From Washington County to Washington D.C., Quite a trip! 

Photo of John Milton HayWho was John Hay?

Statesman, Author, Ambassador

John Hay was a great American statesman, diplomat, author and poet, whose political career spanned over 50 years.  He was born in a small brick home in Salem, Indiana, on October 8, 1838.

After John displayed considerable potential in his schooling, his Uncle Milton Hay, who was a practicing lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, took a special interest and sent him to Brown University, where he graduated in 1858. 

In 1860, when John Hay’s childhood friend, John Nicolay, was appointed Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign secretary, he was brought on board to assist with the enormous amount of correspondence. 

Hay grew to adore President Lincoln for his goodness, patience, understanding, sense of humor, humility, magnanimity, healthy skepticism, sense of justice, resilience and power, love of the common man and mystical patriotism. Many later noted that Lincoln too, loved Hay as a son and was very attached to him.

In 1903, after years of negotiating treaties, Hay successfully passed legislation that afforded the United States the opportunity to start construction on the Panama Canal. 

Brown University’s John Hay Library was named in his honor, as was the John Hay Air Base, in the Philippines and both his birth home, in Salem, Indiana and his summer estate, The Fells, in New Hampshire, have been historically conserved. 

John Hay Center Hours of Operation

Thursdays - 10:00am – 5:00pm
Fridays - 10:00am – 5:00pm
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Steven's Museum Guided Tour
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(Approximate 1 hour Tour)
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