If you are involved with cattle drives (photo above) and chuck wagon cook offs and competitions, you'll want to have a fully functioning chuck wagon with the proper historic camp equipment. But, it is amazing how many times we bring out our chuck wagon, hand-forged camp sets and canvas fly for other events and special occasions. We would like to share some photos of those past experiences and hopefully have an opportunity to meet up with you in the future around a chuck wagon camp fire.
There's nothing like experiencing a trail ride reminiscent of those that our ancestors experienced as they traveled across the wide open plains, hills, valleys and waterways. We've had the privilege of following many historic trails along side others who enjoy horse-drawn travel. Some of the historic Dakota trails that we've traveled are the Ft. Pierre to Deadwood Trail (picture above), Ft. Bennett to Ft. Pierre, Sidney to Deadwood and the Jamestown Trail. If you have an opportunity to join a trail ride that traverses a historic trail in your region, I highly recommend the experience. Nothing will give you an appreciation of those who opened up the vast American frontier like spending a week following in their "wagon tracks".
Any number of differing styles of Covered Wagons make these trips. One of the most important aspects being a canvas cover for protection from sun, wind and rain. But the chuck wagon is by far the most sought out wagon each evening in camp--as the fires are built, the food comes out and the tired travelers gather around to relax with music and share stories of their day. (Picture below.)
We've also had the opportunity to enjoy some amazing historic sites and participate in re-enactments and demonstations of crafts from the horse-drawn era. One of our favorites is the Fort Sisseton Historic Festival which takes place each year. Dressed in the style of the era, participants enjoy a chuck wagon cook off, a wheelwrighting demonstration, a Military Ball and wagon rides--all on the grounds of the Fort Sisseton Historic Site in South Dakota.
This weekend event offers the perfect opportunity to set up your camp complete with canvas fly and attached canvas walls along with hand-forged cook sets (picture above). The canvas fly also comes in handy for offering protection during exhibits and demonstrations (picture below). Check for historic events in your region. It's an excellent outing for the whole family.
Another events that will emmerce you in the "spirit of the old west" is Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. In addition to the popular rodeo, chuck wagon cook offs and historic demonstations are highlights of the event. An entire section of the Cheyenne Frontier Days facility is designated as the chuck wagon camp (picture below). Similar chuck wagon cook offs take place across our entire country. There is sure to be one that you can take in near you or while you are on vacation.
For all of us at Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop, the chuck wagon becomes the hub of most of our shop parties and family gatherings (picture below).
When the opportunity arises to introduce a wider audience to the joys of the lifestyle of the horse-drawn era through the media, we immediately plan for a lunch cooked over an open fire with a chuck wagon close by to provide supplies, prep surfaces, shelter and, of course, ambiance.
We've had the pleasure of hosting Harry Smith from NBC's Today (picture above), Pam Minick from Gentle Giants, and the film crew from both How Its Made; as well as other film production companies.
We've used our chuck wagon and/or canvas fly for everything from family weddings (picture above) to a yearly event where we host a chuck wagon cook out (pictured below) for archeology students from the Prehistoric Indian Village dig in Mitchell, South Dakota.
We've enjoyed sharing these experience with you. If you have pictures of your own chuck wagon or cowboy camp, we would love to see them.