Wagon Train begins journey over Sierra
Sixty years ago this month a group of South Lake Tahoe and Stateline businessmen got together to dream up marketing ideas to drum up business for the South Shore.
“Let’s re-create an 1850s wagon train coming West during the 1850s gold rush,” might have said William Harrah, owner of Harrah’s Bingo Parlor, who was on the original committee to market south shore businesses.
“We’ll get wagons and buggies and horses and wear authentic 1850s clothing,” might have said Harvey Gross, owner of Harvey’s Wagon Wheel, now Harveys Resort and Casino, who also was on the original marketing committee.
That was 1949 and the Highway 50 Association Wagon Train was created. Both Bill Harrah and Harvey Gross both rode the annual Wagon Train for several years, which switched its direction – east to west, then west to east – each year to help promote businesses along the Highway 50 corridor from Placerville to Lake Tahoe.
Today, June 6, is the 60th anniversary of that historical event which has never missed a horse hoof beat. It is recognized by both California and Nevada as a moving historical event. Wagon Train has its rendezvous and registration today at Kingsbury Middle School and Sunday it slowly rolls through South Shore to Amacker Ranch for an over night stay. The dozen-plus wagons and buggies will take a lunch break around noon at the city’s recreations complex on Rufus Allen Boulevard for anyone who would like to stop by and say hello and take photographs. They say “around noon” because strict time schedules are out-the-window when dealing with horses, original wooden wagons and 150-year-old buggies.
When the Highway 50 Association celebrated its 50th anniversary, it rolled with nearly three dozen wagons and buggies, and more than 100 outriders on horse back from Virginia City, Nev., to Old Sacramento for nearly three weeks. This anniversary will be a bit shorter but no less fun. The band of rolling historians will end their trek in “Old Hangtown” June 13 with a Wagon Train/Founder’s Day Celebration in downtown Placerville with entertainment that begins at 10 a.m., a chuckwagon cook-off, live music, street vendors, and then the wagon train heads on to the country fair for an evening of barbeque and dancing to live music.
On June 14, they round up the herds, wagons, buggies and camping gear, say their goodbyes and call it a year – until next year.
Everyone is welcome to experience a taste of the Old West with a ride on the wagon train – be it one day or the entire trip.
For details and to register, visit any wagon train evening stop and speak with Jewell Warren or call (530) 305-6091.
On the Lake Tahoe end, the train begins Saturday, June 6, at Kingsbury Middle School with a rendezvous and registration
On Sunday the ride begins from Kingsbury Middle School to Amacker Ranch, with Monday’s ride to Strawberry, Calif.
For complete details go to hwy50wagontrain.com.
Here is the rest of the schedule:
Tuesday, June 9
Layover Day at Strawberry
Blackpowder Demonstrations, Tomahawk Demonstrations, Barbeque and entertainment in the meadow
Wednesday, June 10
Strawberry to Kyburz
Potluck supper for participants
Thursday, June 11
Kyburz to Fresh Pond
Evening events hosted by Fresh Pond Trading Post
Friday, June 12
Fresh Pond to Pollock Pines to High Hill Ranch
Pancake breakfast, crafters and entertainment – 10 a.m. at Long’s Shopping Center, Pollock Pines
Evening entertainment at High Hill Ranch: Live band, barbecue, beer and Cowboy poetry contest open to the public
Saturday, June 13
High Hill Ranch to Placerville
Wagon Train/Founder’s Day Celebration All Day event begins at 10 a.m. downtown Placerville including chuckwagon cook-off, street vendors, musical entertainment.
Wagon Train proceeds to Placerville Drive for an evening of barbecue, live entertainment and dancing. This event is open to the public.
Sunday, June 14
Wagons, buggies and horses are rounded up and disbanded for another historical year and gets ready for 61st annual Wagon Train in June 2010.
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