What is a Covered Wagon Train?
I was part of a covered wagon train that went through our state twenty years ago, just like the wild west back in the old pioneer days. It was for the Eisenhower Centennial Celebration at Abilene. I went with a group of friends the last week. The people that didn't have a wagon just brought horses or mules. It was a great experience. I made this web page to share my daily journal and pictures from this wonderful trip.
Did you ever ride in a covered wagon?
About the Wagon Train
Each morning, we all rode our horses and drove our wagons with horses or mules pulling them, in a line down the road to the next town. Some of the time we went down the highways beside the cars and trucks, and other times we went down the country dirt roads. We stayed at campgrounds at night.
When we got to Abilene, we were in a big long parade for the celebration.
Along the way, we had these tiny eight ounce bottles of spring water that were provided for everyone to drink. That was my first experience with bottled water. It was back before drinking it became popular. It wasn't good at all. We also brought our own coolers for food and drinks. A couple of times we had a meal in a building with everyone all together.
Someone pulled a trailer with portable toilets on it while we were on the trail. The whole wagon train would stop for a break every few hours. It was parked in our campground to use at night. It had a sign on it that read, "Open 24 hours." You can see it in a picture down below.
We took pictures with cameras that were poor quality compared to the digital ones now, and we made VHS videotapes.
Ready for the Parade
The First Evening
We drove a few hours in our truck and trailer with five horses to meet up with our group of friends that were already there. We arrived at the campground around 7:00 in the evening. Our camp was in the city park. We sent part of our group to the bigger city nearby to get food for all of us. We had horseshoes put on one of the horses while they were gone.
Later we rode our horses through the streets of the city. There was a hotel that looked like they did back in the wild west days. It had a balcony on the top floor outside. My sister talked about jumping down on the horses from up on the balcony, like people did in the old western movies.
I couldn't sleep that first night. I watched a gray tabby cat walk around under a streetlight, chasing bugs. Later I saw a pack of dogs running around loose.
We all had to get up at 5:00 in the morning to get our horses and wagons ready to move on to the next town. I rode the horse that I borrowed for most of the day, then I rode in someone's little mule buggy for awhile.
I didn't have my own horse at that time, I borrowed one from the group of friends that I went on the trip with.
The Second Day
I rode the horse part of the day, then I rode in a big long green wagon that was like a school bus. It could hold either ten or twenty passengers. I don't remember which. There are some pictures of it down below from when it was in the parade. I rode the horse in the parade.
We went down some busy streets in a big city to get to our next campground. We also went under a few different bridges. The whole wagon train stopped at someone's big house out in the country where a couple of women cooked hamburgers for all of us, and there were a lot of us.
That evening, we set up camp at the county fairgrounds. We kept all of our horses and mules in the fairground pens.
I got my picture taken when I was leading one of our friend's horse around. Also several people tried to take pictures of a little baby mule, but it kept turning it's back end toward the cameras.
We had to go separate two of the horses in the middle of the night, because they were fighting.
The next morning, we had our horses ready earlier than everyone else. We waited for them under the cool shade of a tree. It was in August and the weather was hot most of the time. It never rained while we were on the trip.
The Third Day
I rode in the big green wagon again. When we came to the next town, there was a campground that was like a park, with a lot of big trees. There were Native American tepees on one side. A man was doing something with animal fur, and a woman was cooking something outside. We set up camp near them. Some of us went over there to meet them and we took pictures and videotaped them. I have some pictures down below.
We had to put up a fence for our horses. One of the horses got out. We also bathed them. There was no hot water there.
Everyone with the wagon train ate stew in a building together. After that, we all stood outside the building and talked. My sister and I played tetherball. It's a ball, like a soccer ball, on a rope that hangs from a pole and two players try to wrap the ball and rope around the pole on opposite sides. They used to be on most school playgrounds, but I don't see them anywhere anymore.
That night we all sat in chairs beside our horse trailer with a lantern for the first time on this trip. We ate sunflower seeds. I spit a sunflower shell right on the wire horse fence. It was very difficult to hit it like that.
The Big Celebration
On the way to our final stop, Abilene, we went down a road with a big greyhound dog racing track. The dogs were in very long narrow chain link pens, so that they could run a long distance for exercise. They were near the road. When the greyhounds saw us go by, they ran and barked at us. The race track isn't there anymore.
When we got there, our campground was a big rodeo arena with almost a hundred of their horses and cows mixed together in a big field right beside us. We all stayed there two days for the big celebration.
That night we all got together in a big group, and for entertainment we watched some people try to ride mules that were trained to pull wagons, but not for riding. The men brought somewhere between ten and twenty of their mules to the spot where we were to try to ride them. Two or three men stood beside the mules and put on the saddle. Most of them jumped and ran at first, then they calmed down. We all had our cameras and video cameras. I have a photo gallery of it down below.
Later after dark, someone set up a television outside and we all got together and watched our videotapes from the whole trip.
The next day was the big celebration and parade. We bathed our horses to get them ready, then we dried them.
We went to the parade at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was a huge very long parade. We had to wait and wait for a long time until our group of horses and wagons got to go.
Then we went back to the campground and we all went home. It was one of the best times of my life.
This was not our covered wagon, we all just had our picture taken with it. These wagons all had regular car or truck tires that were filled with air instead of those big round hard wheels with spokes like they used to have.
© 2010 Jack