Right Out Of History: Wagon Trains Celebrate Minnesota 150th Anniversary

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train

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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.”

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Re-written from news sources:

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Farm Photo: The Variety Pack

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Draft Teams ~ Gotta Love Those Names !

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Tom and Jerry

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Lucy and Ethel 

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 Mickey and Minnie

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Ike and Mike

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Molly and Dolly

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Nip and Tuck

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Pete and Repete

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And not to be missed … Mule Teams!

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Sonny and Cher

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Fred and Ted

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Jack and Bill

(Read all about Jack and Bill)

If you know more clever names for teams, please let me know. I’m collecting them.  Would appreciate photos, also. Thanks!

Advice Column For Horses ~ Chapter Two

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Dear Mane Mare
A “Dear Abby” for horses
and their problems with people … (us).

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Dear Mane Mare,
We’ve been doing dressage for a while now, but apparently we need to have more collection. That’s according to the new coach. But I think that collection is what is causing all the sore muscles I have since we switched coaches.  What do you recommend?
*Achy

Dear Achy,
I think you’re right about the cause of your aches and pains. Make it perfectly clear to both rider and coach that if they want collection, they should hire an agency. For some reason, people don’t think collection is quite so desirable if it comes through an agency.

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Dear Mane Mare,
My owner is the trendsetter at our stable, which means that I am the first one to wear the newest trend in tack, suffer through the “improved” training methods and try to eat the hottest supplements on the market. She’s driving me nuts! I’m just a …
*Routine Guy

Dear Routine Guy,
Set your own trend: refuse to eat any supplements, refuse to go along with the new training methods and destroy all new tack.

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Dear Mane Mare,
The instructor says that I should be put into a better frame. What does that mean? Will it hurt?  Will I like it? Is a frame a good thing, or a bad thing?
*Frameless

Dear Frameless,
For those of us who do not naturally possess the desired frame, yes, it can hurt, and it is always hard work.  If the instructor demands a good frame, tell her to go to a gallery.  She’ll fit right in there once you add a little color to her. Black and blue are nice colors.

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From Ride Magazine

Budweiser Mule Team

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Budweiser Mule Team ~ Chicago, 1953

Cattle Drive Joins Surfers On California Beach

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Surf meets hoof as board-toting beachgoer navigates a path through the cowboys and their herd.

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The usual early morning sight along the wide white beaches in Huntington Beach, California are surfers, surfers and more surfers.    

That was until a few days ago when the coastal cattle drive hit town.

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Myron Arnold said he knew something was different Thursday morning when he drove down Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. “It wasn’t salty air and it wasn’t suntan lotion.”  It was, well,  another aroma.

Forty cowboys and nine cattle dogs led 100 steers down a 1 1/2 -mile stretch of sand in Huntington Beach at 7 a.m., a time of day usually reserved for surfers and joggers.  

And so it was that Surf City was transformed into Cow Town, if only for an hour. 

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The surf-and-hoof event at the Huntington Beach Pier was meant to promote both the Orange County Fair and the U.S. Open of Surfing, an annual tournament taking place just south of the city’s historic pier.

Marketing intentions aside, the sights and sounds and smells of a cattle run in a city best known for its legendary surf created more than a little excitement.

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Crowds viewed the herd from a beachside path on a bluff as the bovine brigade shuffled south toward the pier. 

No fewer than four news helicopters documented the cattle drive.

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“We’re the herd following the herd,” said Rick Henn, 48, a mail carrier from Huntington Beach who took the day off to see the cattle with his wife, Beth. 

The cowboys, sporting Stetsons, jeans, boots and bandannas, wore wraparound sunglasses and tropical shirts.

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One of them, Robert Kidd, a former resident of Huntington Beach, said herding cattle on the beach was an age-old tradition. So much so that his four-member team of wranglers call themselves the Long Board Cowboys.

“This used to be cattle country right here,” he said from atop a mule. “I left Huntington Beach in a Chevy in ’66 and came back on a mule.

That mule wore a black banner reading, “Never Surf Downstream From the Herd.”

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After the bovine sand parade, the cowboys and cattle dogs herded their Longhorns away from the U.S. Open of Surfing and on to less sandy pastures.

Story: Los Angeles Times