I had the opportunity yesterday to watch the proceedings (and listen to stories and ask questions) while Doug and Holly Hansen put together the several wagons they’d brought from South Dakota. These three, plus one other they’d delivered earlier, will be featured in one of the marathon obstacles. Each will sit inside its own specially constructed “box,” where it can be seen but not crashed into. Which is a good thing, because these are gorgeous wagons.

Let’s start with the ultra-pleasing lines of the Prairie Schooner:

a mostly original 1840s-era Prairie Schooner

Doug said that this particular vehicle is a bit larger than the typical wagons of its type that would’ve crossed the prairies on the various trails heading westward. Be that as it may, it still seems rather smaller than the wagons most of us have fixed in our minds from history books and movies. In the next photo, the gate to the “box” holding this wagon is being hoisted back into place, and you can get a better sense of its size in relation to the people. Can you imagine packing all your wordly possessions in this and walking across the country??

closing the “box” on the Prairie Schooner

Next, let’s take a look at this Mud Wagon, which was used on the Fort Pierre-to-Deadwood Trail in South Dakota in the late nineteenth century:

a close-up of Doug Hansen’s beautiful Mud Wagon; he drives this with four mules

Doug told us a story about just how sturdy this little wagon is. During a 250-mile reenactment drive, it overturned in a river crossing. The tongue broke (and a bit of the canvas top was torn), but the broken tongue was fixed, and the wagon continued on the trail … for another hundred miles! Doug said he’s read plenty of contemporary accounts of Stagecoaches tipping over on the trail, and the occupants being obliged to climb out and help right the wagon before getting back in and on their way.

Isaac (left) and Doug (right) moving the Mud Wagon to its marathon “box”


a close-up of the off side of the Mud Wagon; the tent in the background is the VIP tent that overlooks this and at least one other marathon obstacle


Next, the fabulous Chuck Wagon, which features an original gear and a rebuilt box:

Doug (with Holly helping him on the ground) is putting the first of the bows in place for the Chuck Wagon’s canvas cover


… and with all its bows in place


this barrel held water and would be topped up at every fresh-water stop along the drive


before any of Mick’s crew came back to help, Doug and Holly pushed the Chuck Wagon into its box (don’t worry, I helped as soon as I’d taken this photo!)


… the Chuck Wagon being put in position


… and with the back down … Who’s ready for some lunch?

And, finally, the Freight Wagon, which doesn’t look terribly large but can carry an astounding five tons!

Mick (left) helping Doug (right) put the bows in place on the tall Freight Wagon


Doug and Holly had to go back to their trailer to get the canvas top for this vehicle (and I had to get back to work), so I’ll have to take (and post) a photo of the completed Freight Wagon later this week. Right now, this wagon is sitting next to an eventing cross-country jump, but it will be moved to join the other (marathon obstacle) wagons on the evening of October 2.

One last look for today, of two of the wagons in their marathon “boxes”:

Doug Hansen stands next to his Chuck Wagon, with his Prairie Schooner to the right