Stageway 14-Passenger Stretch Wagons: The “Cattle Wagons” of Milton Hershey School

Stageway Station_Wagons_3bimages courtesy

This is not the typical school parking lot in 1964. Except for that lone Rambler in the front, every vehicle here is a Chevrolet or Pontiac Stageway Coach stretch wagon, ready to take fourteen boys back to their respective homes. Not their paternal homes, but the various “group homes” they lived in, as Milton Hershey was strictly a boarding school, but the residences were not at the campus. 

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The full story is here, but the short version is that Milton Hershey, located in Hershey, PA., is a residential school that serves children from low-income and social-need homes. Prior to 1962, Milton used buses to ferry the kids between their various houses and the school, but by switching to these Armbruster/Stageway wagons, each house could have its own car. According to the school Superintendent, the switch to the wagons “brings to a fuller realization the family organization of homelife created here.” Yes, fighting over who gets which seat in these longboys must have been a bit like being in a family of thirteen kids.

According to the article, the 1962 Chevy wagons were equipped with 250 hp 327 V8s, three-speed transmissions (manual, obviously), power steering and power brakes. It turned out that the Chevy’s weren’t quite up to thirteen of the older students, so some presumably sturdier ’63 and ’64 Pontiacs were added to the fleet. In the 1980s, the long wagons were passed out in favor of more traditional vans.

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Here they are, running to their so called “cattle wagons”. I call dibs on the third row left side!