Monday, October 19, 2009

OLD WEST WAGON TRAIN

Jim stayed home, washed cars and polished the Bronco while I went to see living history on the Streets of Jamestown. They celebrated their Heritage Days, a fun event with locals dressing in period costume, opening up the old jail for public inspection, firing of the anvil, gold panning, and other events. In the past, I've managed to miss the Wagon Train and I was determined to catch it this time.

Five wagons pulled into town from an eleven mile starting point. The horses were wet, lathered, and tired when they arrived. The Historic Sonora Pass Wagon Train is a nonprofit group who own and maintain their horses and equipment and put on historical demonstrations at public events such as this one.
Two of the outfits were pulled by gorgeous black Percherons. Two mules looking the least stressed, pulled one wagon.

People don't have to own a rig, they can join the group and ride along as passengers.

Ladies in costume entertained and answered questions from visitors.
Not all wagon trains had covered wagons. Some were simple farm wagons or buckboards like this one above. I was impressed at how authentic the equipment was, with water and feed buckets hanging below. The traces and trappings for the horses are fine leather, making this an expensive hobby. The wagons were not carrying a heavy load like the settlers did.
I first became interested in wagon trains during the bicentennial when a group of wagons drove part of the original wagon trail and began a movement to identify and preserve what could be salvaged of the old trails used by thousands on their push west. Various groups formed all over the west to imitate and experience what it must have been like for the settlers. They now offer rides, do events like this one, and keep our history alive.
Mixing the old and new, the horses seem quite at home on the streets with cars passing by and people crowded around to get a look at them. Historic Sonora Wagon Train has a website for more information.

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