The Milkman’s Horse

This milk delivery wagon, photographed in Lincoln on April 6, 1942, is a mixture of old and new: rubber tires, a glassed-in compartment for the driver—and a horse for power.

Beatrice Creamery Company milk wagon, 1942

This Beatrice Creamery Company horse was stabled at 8th and L streets in Lincoln, Nebraska. NSHS RG2183-1942-406

Horse-drawn milk wagons were left over from earlier times, but remained common through World War II. Such horsepower would come in handy when mandated gasoline rationing began by the end of 1942. Rubber tires were also rationed during the war, but at least at a horse’s walking speed the milkman wouldn’t wear them out too often.

—David Bristow, Associate Director / Publications

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3 Responses to The Milkman’s Horse

  1. William Wever says:

    I don’t remember many details but remember slightly while young in Plattsmouth my dad subbing for a milk delivery man for a short time while he took a vacation. My job was to hold the horse so he didn’t walk off. The horse knew the route so well my dad hardly ever used the reins.

  2. Ron Scheer (@rdscheer) says:

    Great photo. I was a small boy during the war but have no memory of horses being used for anything, even farm work. The house in the background and the details of the porch recall memories of the period.

  3. Bob Pettit says:

    I remember them well. The kids would beg the milkman for ice on a hot day. The dogs would roll in the horse droppings and have to be hosed off.

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