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William F. Baggerman’s Trips to Central & South America in a Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Books, Features, Old Images, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

William F. Baggerman in 1946 standing in front of his 1946 VEC CJ-2A. Behind the jeep is a trailer (a box on wheels). Standing to the side of the jeep is Charles Mum of the Laredo, Texas, AAA. William is just about to enter Mexico in 1946.

Wiliam F. Baggerman was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri, area around 1914. He attended Washington University and Edinburgh University. He started Modern Management Co., a real estate management firm, in 1936, and later was employed with Sycamore Investors, Inc., a shopping center development company.

He entered what would become the Air Force right after Pearl Harbor and spent 20 months in the Pacific theatre, stationed for at least part of the time in Guam. While in Guam, for some unknown reason, he decided to travel to Central America after the war.

A year after the war ended, he purchased a jeep and, along with a trailer, headed south to Laredo, Texas, where he began his adventure.

After his trip, he wrote an 60 page book: Driving to Managua, Nicaragua (A Guide to the PanAmerican Highway Through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua).

The book is part guide book and part travelogue, as most of the text describes dryly how to travel through the various countries. Yet, the pics feel far more personal; there are at least 10 photos, almost all of which include the jeep. You can view the entire book online at

The jeep he used appears to have been a VEC with indents and a column shift, but without the rear hubs. So, I’d guess a 15xxx to 30xxx serial number. The trailer is a box on wheels … anyone know what model?

Let’s look at some pics!

This is a map of the Pan American Highway. It’s not clear to me how much he veered off the highway:


This pic shows him just entering Mexico:


Those are some beautiful mountains. But who is looking at the mountains when you can peek inside the cab and see the column shifter:


Apparently, even the jeep couldn’t take William everywhere:


He was back on the road when he entered Guatemala:


Here’s William at the end of his journey, Managua, Nicaragua:

Following his adventure in Central America, William returned home and wrote his guide book. Meanwhile, he hatched a new travel plan to explore South America.

Clipping from The St. Louis Star and Times -

Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate any other book by William. However, there appear to be 1800 slides and other items from his trips, not only of Central and South America (both completed in jeeps), but other trips as well. They are housed at the Smithsonian.

The October 02, 1949, issue of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch included some photos he took in South America, but I couldn’t see a jeep in any of them:


Not too long after his return to the states, in 1951 William F. Baggerman married Miss Jean Halliday. He would go on to run for several different offices, but I did not pursue that history to find out if he won or not.

Clipping from The New Haven Leader -

I could not locate a death notice, but there was a reference to him passing away in 2008.

Beside his items in the Smithsonian, William Baggerman’s papers and much more are located at the Missouri History Museum Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, under the William F. Baggerman papers ( click on link then use the search box on your web browser and type in “Baggerman”).


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