Wagons pass through Carson City

Red Wolverton believes he was born 100 years too late - but he's found a way to go back in time.

"It's just an old Western way of life," he said. "I still get a kick out of it."

Wolverton's 10-horse team was one of seven wagons that left Dayton Friday morning and arrived in Fuji Park that evening as part of the 51st annual Highway 50 Association Wagon Train.

The train plans to arrive in Folsom, Calif., on June 12. The final stopping place will be the Negro Bar and the wagon train will disband on June 14.

"It's like a moving museum," said this year's wagon master, Dan Ditrich of Shingle Springs, Calif. "The Highway 50 Association really believes that history needs to be remembered."

Dan, whose wagon name is Quiet Coyote, has been riding with the train for about 10 years. He said he enjoys the reenactment because wagon trains are an essential part of history.

"The wagon trains coming over here searching for gold brought California and the West Coast to life," he said. "If it wasn't for the mountain man being so adventurous, we'd still be goofing around on the East Coast."

Dan's wife, Kathie, and twin sons accompanied him last year and were back again this year.

Kathie, who goes by Corn Fed on the wagon, said her 6-year-old children enjoy the freedom of being outside and playing with the other children and the animals. She said she doesn't worry about them when they are in another's wagon or campsite.

"Everybody looks out for everybody else," she said. "It's a great feeling to know in a pinch there's always an extra set of eyes looking out for you."

Highway 50 Association President Gary Dykstra said the wagon train offers many rewards.

"We do this for the love of history. We do it for the camaraderie," Dykstra, or Dark Horse, said. "These guys are like family."

He said throughout the course of the trip, participants will have to come together to make it through.

He said that morning the train suffered four breakdowns, but the longest holdup was only 10 minutes because everyone worked together to fix the problems.

Wolverton's granddaughter Shallie Wolverton came on the trip to spend more time with her grandparents.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Shallie said. "These things aren't going to be around all the time."

Wolverton first made the trek about 15 years ago in a train of about 35 wagons. At his home in Tucson, Ariz., he supplies horses, buggies and wagons to filmmakers.

Dan said the wagon train takes two-day layovers twice along the way so the animals and participants do not get overworked.


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