“How It’s Made” highlights Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop with two segments

Programs to air Nov. 8 and Dec. 20 on the Science Channel

    LETCHER – Last fall, a film crew from the Science Channel/Discovery Channel’s popular “How It’s Made” program made a trek across the plains of the upper Midwest. The trails they traveled took them to companies that utilize the same crafts that were used over 100 years ago to produce goods. These Heritage Crafts are considered by many to be lost arts, but at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop near Letcher, the professional trades of coach building and wheelwrighting are alive and well.
When the film crew made their scheduled stop at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop, they had plans to highlight only the wheelwright trade for a program segment that would show viewers “How a Wooden Wheel is Made.” After the film crew had a tour of the shop, the three-day film session soon expanded to include the other crafts involved in building a Stagecoach. Separate segments are now in production, one on coach building and the second on wheelwrighting.
Owners of Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop, Doug and Holly Hansen, focus on maintaining the historic trades and designs used in years-gone-by to build their horse-drawn vehicles, as well as maintaining the historic accuracy of each wagon they restore. “It’s more than just a family business, we have a dozen full-time employees and we are always on the lookout for craftsmen wanting to expand or develop a long-term trade,” says Doug.
Thirty-five years ago, Doug rediscovered the trades involved in wagon making through a self-taught quest into the lost art, as well as extensive research and networking with other craftsmen and historians. The Hansens now offer employment opportunities in these trades through apprenticeship programs much like those utilized in frontier days to train employees and help perpetuate the expansion of these traditional crafts.
“The craftsmen at Hansen’s Wheel and Wagon Shop have the opportunity to ‘live history’ and through the wagons and coaches we build and restore. We can offer our customers that same opportunity,” Doug relates.
“It was exciting to have the Discovery crew here filming our trade,” Doug said. “Our craftsmen take great pride in perpetuating the handcrafted quality of old world artisans, and enjoyed the chance to show off their skills to a worldwide audience. We had some fun with the film crew as well, by rolling out the chuckwagon to serve a hot, campfire breakfast. We even hitched up the stagecoach for footage, allowing the crew to experience the spirit of the Old West.”
The “How It’s Made” programs are scheduled to air this fall on the Science Channel. The segment on Stagecoaches will air Thursday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. CT. The other segment, which covers the crafting of Wagon Wheels, will be shown on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. CT.
For information on Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop visit their Web site, hansenwheel.com, also watch for updates on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/HansenWheelShop?fref=ts.
Please check the Science Channel Web site and your local listings for program scheduling and time changes: http://science.discovery.com/tv-schedules/series.html?paid=48.14293.126455.16541.1&start=20.

PHOTOS: TOP – A concord stagecoach replica being built by a craftsmen of Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop;    BELOW – Wheelwright Tim Hoffman dresses the felloe of a newly fabricated wagon wheel.

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