Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train
The first weekend of May, Minnesota began the kickoff celebration of their historic past with the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train.
In all, about 85 people, on horseback and in covered wagons, buggies, surreys and one stagecoach are taking a week long, 100 mile journey, which will end Sunday at the State Capitol.
The arrival of the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train at the State Capitol is the linchpin for the kickoff for the state’s 150th birthday celebration.
The travelers started with two stuck wheels, a willful mule, a handful of skittish horses and a thrown rider. That was all before noon.
A “green” horse three times took his driver off-road. A mule seeking his pasturemate took off, throwing his rider in the tall ditch grass.
When the group circled at noon, wagon master Olson was philosophical. I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow,” he said Monday. “The first day’s always an adjustment.”
Among the group were Pete Karpe who came from his farm in St. Francis, bringing his Percheron draft horses Trixie and Dixie, as well as his son, Mark, a capable, horse-mad 14-year-old.
Susan Longling, of Farmington, a confessed wagon-train addict, brought her Prince to pull the surrey she’d converted from her grandfather’s dairy (and bootleg liquor) cart.
As a strong sun broke through the crisp morning air, wagon master Jon Olson shouted, “Wagons, ho!” and the caravan rattled across the fairgrounds, onto the road.
Karpe had some trouble at the start, when the rig he drove became stuck in the mud. But once on the road, Dixie and Trixie easily caught pace with the group, their shod hooves ringing on the asphalt.
Townsfolk lined the streets of Cannon Falls, gathering before homes and shops to smile, wave and snap pictures. A group of elementary kids held a hand-lettered sign: “Happy Birthday, Minnesota!”
This was “Americana” at its best!
The caravan continued, past bare fields and stands of cedar and elm.
Clay Christian the logistics man, said “We’ve got it easy”. “We’ve got county roads to go down, bridges to go across, no cliffs to take the wagons apart and lower ’em down.”
The covered wagon is an icon of the American frontier. Still, in the 1850s, most arrived by water, via Mississippi steamboat.
From there, with the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the Mississippi behind them, settlers fanned out, often in wagons, all over the state.
The covered wagon was like the 19th century sport-utility vehicle, said Matt Anderson, a curator for the Minnesota Historical Society who specializes in transportation artifacts.
And contrary to the archetype, wagons weren’t meant for people. Usually, they were packed with luggage or cargo.
“Anybody who could walk, I’m sure did,” Anderson said.
Although the rigs at camp are more or less authentic, it’s hard to ignore some of the comforts of today: coolers, lawn chairs, RVs, digital cameras and the occasional chiming cell phone.
In spite of unexpected events along the way, when the ride was completed it was said that “A bad day doing this is still better than a good day doing anything else.”
Re-written from news sources:
Debi Metcalfe reunited with
her stolen horse “Idaho”.
If your horse is stolen go directly to:
Stolen Horse International at
A Shelby, North Carolina woman
has made it her mission to find stolen horses.
Debi Metcalfe and her husband, Harold, lost a family member. Their horse, Idaho, was horse-napped, in broad day light from their pasture.
A year later, they found Idaho in Tennessee.
This is how Stolen Horse International and NetPosse.com was born and has now celebrated over 10 years of success.
The website has Idaho Alerts which are similar to AMBER Alerts for missing children where members are alerted when a horse, tack or even trailers are stolen.
An estimated 40,000 horses are stolen each year in the United States.
During the Metcalfes’ search, someone set up a Web space for the couple and after finding their horse, they decided to help out other people on the Web. That’s how her site NetPosse.com was started.
“We got so much help, I thought I owed it back,” she said.
Since founding her organization, Debi has written a book and been part of television news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and her expertise was used on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” in August.
She appeared as the cover story on The Gaited Horse magazine in an edition that sold out and was most recently featured on “Weekend America,” a Public Broadcasting radio show.
We do a lot more than stolen horses,” Debi said. “That’s how we were started, but we do so much more now.”
Her priority is working with people whose horses are missing first. That comes ahead of fundraising and other functions.
“We try to stress that even if the horse is not found alive and well, it’s better to know than have questions,” she said.
Inspiration … Debi has empathy for the people she helps.
On the NetPosse site is a list of stolen or missing horses across the United States. Also included are photos, dates and current status.
Below are just two of the many horses that have been stolen.
For complete listings: Click here:
Stolen: LPS Mr. Jalapeno
Bay Morgan Gelding Missing in California suspected to be in Arizona – Feb. 6, 2007
Fleabitten Grey Arabian Gelding Stolen after dark from Therapy Progam in Newton County, Georgia – Feb. 3, 2008
If you have a horse that has been stolen or strangely disappeared, do not hesitate. Contact NetPosse.com immediately.
If you recognize the horses pictured above, click on the name of the horse for more information.
It takes everyone working together to keep our horses safe and in their own homes.
In Touch With The Past
Transylvania, a well-preserved twilight zone of European history -a unique place in time – is about to slip away.
The land that now lives in relative obscurity still remains closely connected to a medieval atmosphere with architecture treasures, history and a spirit worthy of preservation and protection.
It is a world away from the ravages of progress that too often has become the accepted way of life for the rest of the world.
In southern Transylvania, a high plateau of wooded hills and valleys shielded by the Carpathian mountains, where Saxon settlers and their descendants have farmed, traded and fought to preserve their land and traditions for more than 800 years, life continues on as long ago.
With horse-drawn carriages and donkey carts rocking along the rutted roads and their drivers wearing handlebar moustaches and floppy felt hats, it has become a time capsule for the Europe that was … over a century or more ago.
Great Britian’s Prince Charles wrote “The area represents a lost past for most of us – a past in which villages were intimately linked to their landscape.”
Not much happens in these villages. Depending on the season, most people are in the fields tilling or harvesting small plots of hay, oats and potatoes with horse-drawn implements handed down through generations.
The most common form of transport is the horse and cart, designed to carry crops, logs, people, sheep, tools, and anything else that needs to be moved.
However, time is changing for Romania. Life is taking a dramatic jolt to the tranquility and link to the past.
With Romania’s entry into the EU earlier this year, these village and communities now face monumental challenges and changes.
In hamlets where women still draw water from wells and shepherds guard their flocks by night from wolves, there is confusion and concern over impending rules and regulations that threaten their livelihoods.
Romania’s seven-year construction plan for the national motorway network means the Government needs to claim large sections of land, cutting through what has been unchanged for centuries.
Around 12.8 billion Euro is scheduled for investments in road infrastructure in the next seven years with 4 major highways crossing through the heart of Romania.
Authorities have issued laws banning horse-drawn carts from main roads in a disastrous attempt to bring the country into line with European Union laws.
Consequently, horses which for centuries have pulled wooden carts along the city’s streets or worked in the fields are now being abandoned by their owners.
The horses and their owners have become victims of a poorly conceived and politically derived path of progress. And in the wake is the destruction of a hallowed way of life in Romania.
With a sense of preservation, plans could have been derived where both progress and the protection of the past could have dwelled together.
That is, unfortunately, not the blueprint for the future of Romania.
No one person knows about this enevitable devastation to land and lifestyle better than British Engineer and Equestrian, Julian Ross, owner and operator of the Stefan cel Mare, the longest-established equestrian centre in Romania.
Often quoted in various news media on the subject, Mr. Ross states that the police have been too quick to blame animals for the high accident statistics.
As he clarifies, “The ban was slipped in stealthily,” he said. “There are some villages where farmers cannot legally get to their fields any more.”
Not only was this lifestyle pretty to look at, it was the ideal method of transport and no danger to anyone in the quiet lanes of the village.
The problem is that Romania’s horses and carts, adorned as they often are with bells and lace, are not just picturesque, they are a crucial way of life for many in the countryside.
Julian Ross maintains a blogsite known as The Transylvanian Horseman.
It is a must read for all those interested in a country and lifestyle whose touch with history is running out of time.
For those who would like a personal trip by horseback through the historic beauties and serenity of Romania, check this website for Stefan cel Mare.
For those viewing Romania from home, enjoy these photographs taken by Julian Ross and remember this place and this time.
Photos posted by permission.