Carpenter-Dodge School Bus, 1939

Carpenter-Dodge School Bus, 1939

Usage conditions apply
This bus carried rural children to the Martinsburg, Indiana school in the 1940s. Busing enabled children to attend consolidated schools, which were larger than one-room schools and had better curricula, teachers, and facilities. All-steel school buses like this one were safer than earlier school buses, which had wooden bodies. The paint color, double deep orange, was common at the time, but yellow later became the standard color for school buses. This body was built by Carpenter Body Works of Mitchell, Indiana in 1936 and later was attached to a 1939 Dodge chassis.
Object Name
Carpenter/ Dodge school bus
bus, school
date made
ca 1936-1939
used date
Carpenter Body Works, Inc.
Dodge Manufacturing Company
Associated Place
United States: Indiana
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 8 11/16 ft x 7 15/16 ft x 22 11/16 ft; 2.6414 m x 2.4128 m x 6.9086 m
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Donated by Carpenter Body Works, Inc.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
America on the Move
Road Transportation
America On The Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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My grandfather Harold Goen and my great uncle Clyde Chastain were two of the Carpenter’s workers who helped to repair and refurbish the bus when it was sent from the Smithsonian for repairs. Both of them worked for Caprenter’s until the closer of the plant. They were both very proud to have been able to restore the bus for future generations to see and enjoy.
My Great Grandfather was Ralph H. Carpenter who started the Bus building business from a blacksmith shop in southern Indiana. He had 5 Daughters one of which Martha Ruth Carpenter (Mannix) was my fathers mother. I was born and raised in southern Indiana in the town of Mitchell and the home of Carpenter Body Works. As kids we spent much of our childhood in and around the factory. What Great memories and pride all of my cousins and siblings have of our heritage to this day!! I hope to someday come and visit in Washington and take a photo next to this Bus.
"My family lived on Dutch Creek near Martinsburg. It is very likely my father, aunts, and uncles road this bus. We lived in Palmyra Indiana just a few miles from Martinsburg. This bus, when replaced, was used by a local gentleman to deliver and sell groceries to local farmers. It sat idle in the side yard of a house less than two blocks from where we lived. We played around it but paid no attention to it. One day it was just gone. Glad you found it, now we know what happened to it!"
This is a great picture with a great history behind it. I always appreciate learning and finding out more about how things were used to be.

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