Wagons Ho!

Minnesota celebrates 150 years of statehood this weekend. Raise a toast to Pig’s Eye Perrant, Joe Rolette and the rest of the state’s scoundrels: the one-eyed barkeepers, bootleggers and ne’er-do-wells won’t get celebrated any other way.

Even better yet, turn out for the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train and see what transportation emitted before greenhouse gasses. There’s a whole trail of it stretching back to Cannon Falls this week.

wagontrain1.jpg

I caught up with the wagons as they were breaking camp in Hastings this morning. Wagon master Jon Olson was leading a string of 20 wagons out of the park down by the Mississippi. It’s a bit of a motley fleet: there are buggies and grain haulers and rubber-tired hay wagons in the caravan. Some are restored antiques, some came right out of a welding shop.

schmidt.rick.JPGRick Schmidt, a retired carpenter from Lakeville, built his double-box grain wagon out of ash from scratch. That’s him at right. “I thought it would be a hoot,” he said of the project. His wife didn’t initially see the charm, he admits. “But now she thinks its pretty nice.”

The most interesting thing, though, is that this may very well be the last time in history you get to see an actual wagon train go through Minneapolis and St. Paul proper. They’re headed to Inver Grove Heights this afternoon and they’re supposed to be at Fort Snelling by lunch time tomorrow.

The crew likes visitors: they had 100 people in Hastings for a chuckwagon meal and some dance music.

From Fort Snelling on Sunday, the wagons will start up 54th Street, Minnehaha Drive, Godfrey and 46th Street in Minneapolis about 11 a.m. They’ll hit St. Paul about noon and go up Ford Parkway, Cleveland and then down Summit Avenue to the Capitol in the afternoon. The gawking will be good, if Hastings was any indication this morning.

Here’s the turn-by-turn schedule for Saturday and for Sunday.

  • http://www.mpr.org Luke Taylor

    Hadn’t heard about this until I read this post. Going to have to check out that wagon train when it passes through Mpls. (And I love how the woman in the lead wagon is on the phone!)

  • Carolyn Ingalls

    ohhh she’s on the phone, and here I thought it was a gesture or expression of joy and overwhelming wonder at the experience of riding on a horse drawn wagon.