SIMSBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — “A one-horse open sleigh! That was the RV of the day,” says Bob Moody of the Simsbury Historical Society. Take a stroll down Main Street and there’s a new look from the olden times.
“These sleighs from the 1850s are called cutter sleighs, they were manufactured in Portland, Maine,” he explains, pointing out sleighs on display. “They were also manufactured in New Haven, Connecticut and Albany, New York.”
Last year, the society decided to display six antique sleighs. But, first, they transformed them into works of art.
“I chose this sleigh because I loved the lines on it,” says artist Deborah Leonard who covered a sleigh with intricate scenes from home, showing the Heublein Tower and the Farmington River.
She enjoyed the unique yet chilly experience of painting in a new way: “We were at the Simsbury historical barn which isn’t heated. It was frigid in there. My water froze!”
“I grew up in this town and still live here – it’s just a nice Colonial town, we keep it up well,” adds Catherine Elliott, artist of another sleigh.
Find a brochure attached to each artistic sleigh which shows the map of the trail. It also gives information to each sleigh, really lending to this history lesson.
“This is what you would use to go to the store, to go to school,” says Moody, describing the conversations families are having. “Mom or Dad would drive you in this.”
Folks are loving all the special details and the project’s New England flair.
“When we drive by occasionally, you’ll see families of 3 or 4 or more crammed into the sleighs to take selfies,” laughs Moody.
The Sleigh Trail has gotten people outside during the pandemic to appreciate artistic talent, as well as craftsmanship and charm…of a different time.
“It depicts an era in which things were easy but things were not easy,” says Moody, adding that’s quite like today.