A Jackson Wagon for Jumbo the Elephant

A cartoon drawing of a circus elephant being carried by a horse drawn carriage.

Jumbo the Elephant, riding in a green Jackson Wagon. [Rand McNally Publishing, Trading Card] Courtesy of: Michigan History Center

Steve Ostrander, Michigan History Museum

Soon after the Michigan State Prison was built at Jackson, “Agents”—the term for prison wardens at the time–began contracting inmates out to companies that wanted cheap labor.

The Jackson Wagon Company built a factory on the grounds of the Michigan State Prison. Their wagons had earned a reputation for strength and durability during the 1849 California gold rush.

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