Highway 50 Wagon Train: ‘Moving Campout’ takes 74th annual trek through South Tahoe

A previous Highway 50 Wagon Train.
Western Days event kicks of Highway 50 Wagon Train The Lake Tahoe Historical Society will present the kickoff to the Highway 50 Association Wagon Train with Western Days on Saturday, June 3, at the History Museum Complex, located at 3058 Lake Tahoe Boulevard. The event will include:
  • Tours of the History Museum, 1930s Log Cabin, and peek into Osgood Toll House
  • Children's Hands-on Activities, Pony Rides, and Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
  • Vendors of Western Wear, Jewelry, and More
  • Music by Cash Only Band and Doug Schwartz and the Whiskey Wolves
  • Entertainment by the Hangtown Marshalls and David Woodruff Sharing a History of Bonanza with an Audience Sing-a-long
  • Food, including Wylder Hotel's Famous Pies, Hard and Soft Beverages, and Much, Much MORE!
On Sunday, June 4, view the wagon train on its historic journey to Placerville through South Lake Tahoe. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

STATELINE, Nev. — The Highway 50 Wagon Train will make its 74th annual trek from Stateline to Placerville on Sunday, June 4, with a kickoff party “Western Days” being hosted the day before at the Lake Tahoe Museum, located at 3058 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe. 

The namesake’s association was established in 1949 to commemorate “a mighty flood of gold seekers and adventurers, bound for California seeking the ‘Mother Lode,'” according to the Hwy 50 Train Association website.

While the starting point for the event has varied over the past 74 years the historical purpose remains the same. This year the train will take off from the Safeway at Roundhill, where they will gather Saturday between noon and 6 p.m. and check in for the night. The teams will be available for questions as they prepare for the week-long “moving campout” which will end June 10 at Regal Cinemas 8 in Placerville, according Spreckelson who is the co-event planner with Paula Peterson, President of the Lake Tahoe Historical Society. 

A second opportunity to meet the participants of the wagon train will be chow time at high noon, or thereabouts when the wagon train arrives at their first stop. Spectators are encouraged to join the waggoners at the Lake Tahoe Historic Museum for lunch approximately arriving between 11 a.m. to noon. 

“It’s all about history,” said Carol Spreckelson, who has been helping with the event for three of the seven decades and said importance of the past is essential. “You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from.”

To get an up close lesson on the history of the Gold Rush, seats are still available to ride on a wagon for a day or all 10 for a fee. Registration is available on the Wagon Train’s website,

Funding and participation has dwindled over the years Spreckelson said.

In 2001 the Tribune reported on a grant unanimously passed by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to indefinitely give the group a $10,000 annual grant. 

This grant came after multi-agency support had been poured out for the event by way of fees being waived which normally would be charged by the California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol, and the city of South Lake Tahoe.

The past 22 years has changed more than just the financial status of the organization, funds are no longer distributed and the increase in traffic has forced a change to the route they take.

CHP has, in recent years, encouraged the route to not go over Echo Summit for safety reasons, Spreckelsen said. 

“Pollock Pines has a huge celebration welcoming us at the community center,” Spreckelsen said, and added that she wished there was more participation.

In 1980, there were 35 wagons, according to Spreckelson, who fears the event’s once bright future is dimming without revitalized support.

“This year a single freight Highway 50 wagon will be pulled by four draft horses, the second hitch, a green painted wagon will be pulled by two draft horses,” Spreckelson said. “All 6 horses are from the Temecula Carriage Company.”

For this years train according the the website, sponsors and advertisers of Wagon Train include Senator Ted Gaines, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, Caltrans, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Nevada Highway Patrol, and the Nevada Department of Transportation who help preserve and promote this “significant Bi-State Historical Event,”.

Others mentioned in the associations thank you statement online were Joe Jeffrey with Road Tech Safety,  Wilkinson Portables,  Doug and Lori Veerkamp,  Gordon and Rene Vicini and Les Schwab Tires for new tires. 

For those interested in corporate sponsorship, Spreckelson is available at 530-545-8938.

The Highway 50 Wagon Train takes visitors back in time to 1949 when the US50 Wagon Train traversed the highway.
Provided/Highway50 Association

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