Once Common Hitching Posts Now Rare

Vintage hitching posts serve as reminder of the days of "real horsepower"


| February 2000



Hitching post collector Bob Maclin with one of his horsehead figural posts, fitted with a wooden base and his family's monogram. Everything beneath the round swirl is new; metal parts were crafted on a friend's metal milling machine

Hitching post collector Bob Maclin with one of his horsehead figural posts, fitted with a wooden base and his family's monogram. Everything beneath the round swirl is new; metal parts were crafted on a friend's metal milling machine

When you go to town, turning off your car's ignition is the main thing to do after parking. But in the days of real horsepower, tying up to an iron ring or a hitching post was standard procedure.

"Horses and mules, and about anything used on or with them, has always interested me after growing up in a small Texas town,"  says Bob Maclin, who now lives in Lexington, Ky. "That includes curiosity about hitching posts and their many designs."

The Texas town Bob refers to has long since been absorbed by urban sprawl, but as a young man, he saw many wagon teams, buggy horses and riding horses tied at the county wagon yard after they arrived in town. Blacksmith shops were located on three corners of the town square, with a hitching post or rail at each. And many homes had hitching posts a few feet from the street or road.

Bob now has a substantial collection of hitching posts, and more than a hundred photographs of other types and designs he's encountered in his widespread travels. (He also has a large collection of bridle bits and is always on the look for a new addition.)

Collecting hitching posts is rewarding, he says, because ornate ones can be considered examples of Americana. Posts - both those manufactured in large numbers, and the locally produced models are increasingly scarce.

"Unfortunately, during World War II, scrap drives resulted in many hitching posts being broken up with sledge hammers for the war effort, as were metal flower urns and garden ornaments," Bob says. "A renewed interest in hitching posts has led to modern USA reproductions cast from aluminum. Some crude imports are also frequently found."