For more than 40 years, Washington native Allen Vogt and his family businesses literally paved the way for progress in Franklin County.
From the time his father purchased the family concrete business in 1951, for the next four decades his family played a major role in many road and building projects as the cities of Franklin County expanded both horizontally and vertically.
“We worked on projects at the hospital and Highway 100,” Vogt said. “We also did several other buildings in Washington.”
After buying out his competitors in Pacific and Union a decade earlier, Vogt sold Washington Ready Mix and eased into retirement in 1995.
In addition to the concrete trucks that were his livelihood, Vogt also surrounded himself with other large trucks, red ones to be exact.
After six years in the Army Reserve, serving in relative peacetime between the Korean and Vietnam wars, Vogt joined the Washington Fire Department in the early 1960s.
“There were a few other guys from my reserve unit that were on the department,” Vogt said. “They said I should join.”
Throughout the years, Vogt would rise through the ranks to reach lieutenant, then on to captain of his section and was commanding officer of a specific truck.
While there, Vogt was an asset to the department lending his knowledge of large fleet vehicles to equipment and truck purchases.
“I helped maintain the trucks,” Vogt said. “I also helped spec out four fire trucks.”
Vogt explained “specing” out a truck is basically designing from the ground up to fit the specific needs and requirements of a department.
This is done to accommodate existing equipment or trucks sometimes are purchased with new equipment, but the configuration and placement is decided by the department ordering the apparatus.
In addition to designing new trucks, Vogt has also been involved with the restoration and preservation of several antique trucks including the Washington fire department’s first pumper, a 1917 Ford Model T.
The remains of the truck were found at a lot owned by Clarence Stumpe on the corner of Jefferson Street and Highway 100 in late 1985 by Vogt, Henry Otto, and Ken Haberberger, who along with Butch Schnittger, Dutch Gerner and Al Fischer, came to be known as the “chain gang.”
Four years later, on May 9, 1989, the $6,200 privately-funded restoration of the Chemical Engine was complete.
Since then the Model T has traveled to dozens of shows and parades in Washington and all over the St. Louis metro and the chain gang has filled trophy cases with awards the Model T and its restoration team have won.
Vogt carried his preservation expertise to his own garage and has restored not one, but four military surplus Willys Jeeps over the last 15 years.
Not all of Vogt’s hobbies involve engines and big wheels.
Throughout his life, he has accumulated a collection of Washington memorabilia that could fill and rival a museum.
Many of his items are related to current and former businesses in town.
“You name it, I’ve probably got it,” Vogt said. “I probably have as much stuff as the historical society. I’ve got just about anything everybody gave away over the years.”
Vogt said while he was in business, his company gave out promotional items and as he received things from other businesses, he kept them.
“You tend to hang on to different things,” Vogt said. “You never know what you’ll be in to and you don’t know what you’ll do with it.”
Always one to keep his wheel turning, Vogt and his wife love to travel and recently returned from a trip to Europe.
“We try to go somewhere different every year,” Vogt said. “Our next trip will be to Hawaii.”
Over the years, Vogt has also visited Washington’s sister city Marbach am Neckar a couple of times.