Wagon Train ready to rollAnticipation ran high Sunday afternoon at Fort Seward, as participants in the 43rd annual Fort Seward Wagon Train gathered to register for their 79-mile journey.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Anticipation ran high Sunday afternoon at Fort Seward, as participants in the 43rd annual Fort Seward Wagon Train gathered to register for their 79-mile journey.
The trip will take more than 150 people from Jamestown to Fullerton, N.D., traveling in the style of the pioneers — using 10 covered wagons drawn by horses.
“We’ve gone to Renaissance fairs and dressed up, and camped in lots of national parks,” said Christopher Hoppe, of Philmont, N.Y., adding that the Wagon Train was a little bit like combining the two activities into one.
Violet Hoppe, 8, was already wearing period-appropriate clothing Sunday afternoon, including a vest, blue jeans and a Western-style hat. Violet was hoping she’d get a chance to drive the horses.
Her brother, Samuel, 14, and mother, Merideth, were also preparing for the long trip ahead at Fort Seward on Sunday.
Quite a bit of preparation was required, especially for the Wagon Train’s female participants.
For men, period-appropriate attire might just be blue jeans and a shirt, along with a vest or suspenders — all of which are easily purchased.
While females can wear jeans on the train or when riding, they do have to wear period-appropriate dresses and bonnets for the evening meals, with or without aprons. That can be a little harder to find, or more expensive, than a pair of jeans.
“We have sewn all our clothes, or purchased Salvation Army options,” Merideth said, adding she was looking forward to wearing the clothes and slowing down for the week.
The Hoppe family planned the trip with Merideth’s sister, Jackie Wingfelder, and her daughter, Maia Tian, 9.
“Friends of ours told us about it, told us it was the best family vacation they’d ever taken,” Wingfelder said.
Maia, too, was looking forward to getting to know the horses along the way.
Other people had other goals for the trip.
John Gallagher, of Carrington, N.D., wants to learn how to drive horses, and is particularly interested in the trip’s usage of draft horses.
“So many people like to play cowboy … but the heavy draft (horse) is so much more a part of the culture than the cowboy horse,” Gallagher said.
His wife, Lorelei, and daughter, Asha, helped him set up his tent Sunday afternoon. Though neither of them is going on the Wagon Train this year, both hope to do so next year.
Although the weather seemed to dominate people’s concerns about the trip, John had a different worry in mind.
“I’m 54 years old. I’m worried about my joints,” he said. “Sleeping on the ground is something I don’t do anymore. Time has a way of doing its battle with us.”
He added he was going to miss his family, too.
Robin Richardson and her husband, James, traveled all the way from Jasper, Ala., to join the Wagon Train.
“It’s going to be a new experience,” James said as he worked on putting up the tent at Fort Seward on Sunday.
Generally, the Richardsons camp in a camper, not a tent, but they’re on the Wagon Train with Robin’s sister, Marilyn Edgil, and her husband, Don, who use a tent to camp.
“Like it or not, you can blame me” for the idea to go on the Wagon Train, Robin said.
She sewed three dresses and a skirt and borrowed a few outfits for the trip too. The men were wearing their everyday clothes, for the most part, though Robin said her husband had needed to buy a few shirts.
“We’re just excited about the whole trip. We’ve never been on a wagon train,” Marilyn said. “We want to feel like we’re part of the West.”
The Wagon Train will end up in Fullerton on Saturday.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can
be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at