The recent spate of cold weather has led to questions about how people managed without the benefits of mechanically-derived heat, especially when traveling. If you take a bus or a train or have to drive a car to get around in cold weather, the temperature inside the vehicle is usually pretty nice. One of the ways early twentieth century travelers mitigated the cold was through the use of a delightful device known as a foot warmer or carriage heater. The Morrison County Historical Society (MCHS) has several in its collection, testifying to their ubiquitousness at one time in American culture. This Clark Carriage Heater No. 7D was donated to MCHS by Pearl Anderson of Upsala, Minnesota. The heater consists of a metal oblong case with a slanting top and a green carpet covering. Advertisements for the heater tout the attractive Brussels carpet that is lined with asbestos, a frightening thought today. The ends of the heater are nickel-plated. One end and the back have adjustable ventilators that can be used to regulate the amount of heat. The other end has a handle for a tray that is inserted into the case to hold the heat source, which was often a brick of carbon or some coal. The Clark No. 7D Heater was one of the more popular styles of carriage heater sold by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Co. of Chicago, Illinois, a company best known during the early twentieth century for its sheep shearing and horse-trimming machines. The company later became the Sunbeam Corporation.
To learn more, contact the Morrison County Historical Society (320/632-4007; email@example.com) or stop by the museum and check out the Warm In Winter exhibit. The exhibit runs through Spring 2014.