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Wagon train reaches Sierra

A wagon train that left Missouri four months ago reached the foot of the Sierra with its educational message.

The Gold Rush Wagon Train, one of several wagon trains this year that are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the California gold rush, will camp out tonight in Genoa and cross into the Golden State on Tuesday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the train will stopover in Woodfords.



At each stop along the journey that began April 3, wagon train participants take time to explain what life was like 150 years ago and the impact the Gold Rush had on the cultures in its path.

In Genoa, the interpretive presentation will take place around 10 a.m. to noon – more or less, depending on how long it takes to reach the town from their Carson City stay – at Jacks Valley School.




At Woodfords they’ll be camping near Woodfords Station and the Merrill House. Interpretive programs are scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday.

All the presentations are geared for children and include local angles.

“Local groups in many places have been able to explain local histories as well,” said Kimberly Lloyd-Stewart, a school teacher and one of the organizers of the event.

“The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact, not just on California but on the whole United States because of the emigrants who came and ended up staying.”

Stories are often multicultural, she said.

During the interpretive program Tuesday night at Woodfords, representatives from the Washoe Tribe will present their perspective on the Gold Rush, she said.

Participation has varied from a peak of 200 participants and 10 wagons to the core group of 20 people and five wagons, the current train.

The interpretive presentations include artifacts from the period described by Wagonmaster Russ Leger.

“Tennessee” John Stewart, the train’s mule skinner, will talk about such things as the equipment on a typical wagon, how the brakes work and what a mule skinner does.

Lloyd-Stewart gives presentations on the women in the Gold Rush.

“Women did more than prostitution,” she said. “They made money minding the miners. They cooked, cleaned, raised chickens and sold eggs.”

Heather St. John, 11-years-old, demonstrates toys of the period and Delane St. John, a teamster on the wagon train, talks about the trip itself and how this trip is different.

For more information, contact the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce at (530) 694-2475 or visit the train’s Web site at http://www.goldrushwagontrain.com.


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