The historic Wagon Train rolls on
They call it “The Grand Daddy of All Wagon Trains” because it boasts the biggest and oldest wagons in the country.
The 63rd annual Wagon Train, which travels from Zephyr Cove to Placerville, will run its historic wagons along Highway 50 from June 2-10.
Started by Harvey Gross in 1949 to generate business, the only bi-state historical event has become one of Tahoe’s most famous traditions.
Davey “Doc” Wiser, former president of the Highway 50 Association, is excited to get his 25-year-old horse “Beetle Bailey” ready for the big parade. It will be his 35th year participating in the event.
“Back in the day we used to have 35 wagons and very long 12-hour-days, which was way too much,” he said.
The trips went on for 17-22 days, but have since become a shorter seven-day event, he said. The parade took routes from Sacramento to old Virginia City or from Zephyr Cove to Spooner Summit.
This year, 15 wagons will participate. That number that has been working out well for the last 10 years, as space is extremely limited for the supporting vehicles, Wiser said.
The oldest part of the parade will be the old historic double-hitch wagons, which were used around 1860 and also when the parades started.
Participants will start setting up on Friday before the actual parade begins on Saturday. The first day will host a rendezvous and registration barbecue in Zephyr Cove with a Pony Express Sunset Cruise hosted by Mark Twain.
All wagons and riders will leave Zephyr Cove on Sunday and head toward Amacker Ranch on Sawmill Road. They will stop for lunch at Lakeview Commons on the beach.
On Monday, riders and wagons will start from Amacker Ranch and will arrive at Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe in the early afternoon.
Jim Mueller, owner of Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe, will host the participants and will keep the area open to the public between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Echo Summit next to the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pony Express trail.
A barbecue, during which kids can check out the wagons and costumes, is planned for the day, Mueller said.
It will be the first year that Mueller and his wife, Linda, who took over the Ski Resort in 2006, participate as hosts in the Wagon Train event.
“It is also our first time that we will stay open during the summer months and, hopefully, it turns out to an annual event for us,” Mueller said.
Private evening activities will take place over the following two days as the wagon train moves from Kyburz to Fresh Pond. On the evening of June 7, activities and a barbecue will be held in Fresh Pond, right next to Carson Road.
The train will travel to High Hill Ranch in Camino on Friday. At Pollock Pines, the train will offer a pancake breakfast, pony rides and music before the Stardust Cowboys and Poet Jim King perform at High Hill Ranch in the evening at a steak cookout.
On June 9, the End of Trail Party will be held and will feature live music, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and a final barbecue to welcome the wagons in “Old Hangtown” Placerville before the train disbands for another year.
“Placerville used to have a parade lined up for us on the last day,” Wiser said, “Now we are the actual parade.”
For more information, visit http://www.hwy50wagontrain.com or call the event coordinator Vi Tara at 530-644-3761.