Last Saturday morning, a few friends and I met at High Hill Ranch in Camino (Apple Hill to tourist folk) to hook up with the Wagon Train.
It was a glorious morning. The night before had brought a thunder and hail storm, completely raining out the planned outdoor dance and cowboy poetry celebration. But it washed the trees and made our morning smell heavenly.
As we walked over, the gathering was just finishing with a group photo in front of the wagons.
In order to ride along with the Wagon Train, you must be dressed in the appropriate garb. So everyone definitely looked the part. Of course, there were a few t-shirted men adding their elbow grease here and there.
Off to my right, I spied a lady sitting alone in a green wagon. I recognized her from an article that had been in the newspaper a few days before.
She rode the entire way with the Wagon Train, spending each night at a different motel. In her mid-eighties, she figured this was her last hurrah. She brought along her two "muppets" to entertain the kiddies and it was delightful to meet her and chat with her for a while.
We gathered for our own memory before we headed to our wagon. On the left is Normadene, our 2014 Golden Rose, then Dolores, the 2013 El Dorado Rose, me, and our 2012 Golden Rose Judy on the right.
Judy made my lovely pinafore from an embroidered linen tablecloth. Dolores was especially proud of her suede outfit which she purchased from a Wagon Train participant last year.
The glowing ladies above are sisters from Reno and Fernley, Nevada. I absolutely loved the fabrics used in the outfit on the right. We had a lot of fun talking as we waited for the conveyances and the horses to be ready.
Finally it was time to head over to our wagon. We were going to ride in a "surrey with the fringe on the top" ! It had shocks and padded seats and we decided it was the limousine of the past.
The couple sitting in front of Normadene and I were from Sacramento, and hadn't been to the area before.
Judy and Dolores were in the last seat.
There was quite a bit to do to get all the horses ready. In the picture above, the lady is walking past a trailer (with the cowboy figure on the side) which follows along with the train. It holds the privy!
Time to load up and get your hats on.
Some of the riders rode along beside the wagons, they each seemed to have a job to do.
Chomping at the bit...
Everyone to their stations.
There was about fifteen minutes of "hurry up and wait".
It was fascinating watching the specific order the wagon train moved into as they started to head out, and to hear the various calls they made to each other.
Off we started. The three big wagons which were latched together held many persons who were able to sign up to ride along. You can ride the entire way, part way, or the last day as we did.
Sixty-six years, started in 1949. There was no wagon train in 1950, but otherwise it has been consistent. It is much smaller now but still hanging in there!
Shining horses pulling my new friend and her muppets.
I guess I was having my "picture took" while I took one myself.
Notice the little girl and her great perch on the little wagon above.
The Wagon Train turns onto Carson Road, heading west towards Hangtown.
We had a CHP escort until we hit the city limits. This is Officer Hoey waving us on, above.
This lovely lady on her hardworking horse was always watching our group, helping the drivers slow or speed up as needed, letting us know how the trek was going.
A clearing for a new vineyard on the south side of Carson Road made a view of the Placerville Airport visible.
Seemed like we had just gotten started and it was time for lunch at Boa Vista Orchards.
Fresh apple juice flowed freely, oh boy was it refreshing!
We all lined up and the horses got buckets of fresh water. They wouldn't get anything to eat until the trip was over, however.
We had a few dogs with us, the couple above each had a chihuahua, and in our wagon we had a sheep dog, she was very well behaved and sweet. I didn't get a picture because she stayed right by our driver and barely moved the whole trip.
The little bit of fluff on the left above is our sheep dog.
Davey "Doc" Wiser is almost always a fixture in a Hangtown event.
The little dog wants to get on the road.
Many spectators gathered with us at lunch and visited with drivers and riders.
Lovely clouds to our north fueled our imagination.
We were lucky to see wonderful old homes up close and personal.
I was ready to move into this little cabin, what a great studio it would make.
Our view of the back of the Abel house showed us they have a swimming pool under their porch.
I don't have a fancy camera, so my shot of the blooming chestnut trees, in the center of this picture, did not turn out very well. They were really wonderful.
Another ancient cabin just begs for an old tale to be told.
A gigantic blooming buckeye very close to the road scented our way.
A blurry (even a surrey with shocks and cushions can be bumpy) shows how we took over the winding country road.
Our lady was always watching out for us, keeping us updated on how the other wagons were doing.
Up front and at the back, the Highway Patrol were keeping the cars back or allowing them to go slowly by.
On Jacquier Road our lady stopped us. Another wagon behind us developed a problem and had to pull off the road. A property owner allowed them to park there and the passengers were rearranged and we moved on.
There have been several old homes torn down to put in vineyards along Jacquier. This cute little farmhouse and its shade trees survived.
We hit Smith Flat Road and turned to travel down along Hangtown Creek.
Past Hangtown Grange, which sponsored me as El Dorado Rose last year.
This section of the road, as it flows through the little canyon by the creek, is dubbed "pneumonia gulch" since it doesn't see much sun during the winter.
We stopped again just before Broadway and I asked our driver to pose for me.
"Doc" Wiser and friend stopped by for a chat.
I didn't get any photos of our trek down Broadway, but there were quite a few people watching and waving and I saw several friends along the way.
Then we headed around the corner onto Main Street.
The closer we got to downtown, the more waving we had to do. Here we are about to go past Pearson's Soda Works and Sweetie Pies.
Passing the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce.
Waving at our friends at the Historical Museum.
The Old Post Office (now the District Attorney's office).
Our lady watches the traffic for us at Bedford Street.
The Courthouse steps where we gathered last December for the Christmas tree lighting.
Old City Hall (aka ketchup and mustard buildings) now a real estate office.
Past Bricks, once the Rainbow Club, Placer Station, and Mama D'Carlos.
Past Arian's and the Odd Fellows Hall.
Crowds are starting to pick up as we approach the center of town. Past Cuppa Coffee and More.
This Hangtown Marshall followed us along downtown and entertained us some on the way.
At the Bell Tower the crowd thickened and we were kept busy waving.
The Wagon Train parade is a lot smaller now than when I was a little girl. Then there were floats, bands, Shriners with their little cars, etc. But these great people still came to see us go by and welcome us to town.
Have I mentioned we were kept pretty busy waving?
The Kiwanis club had a huge replica Studebaker wagon.
It was such a lovely day, the temperature only in the 70s, so it was a great day to stand in the sun and watch the parade go by.
The balcony at the Cary House is a good spot from which to view the parade.
Another shot of the hangman.
The Thomas Kinkade Galley and a toy shop called Kiddlywinks now occupy what once was Dillinger's Furniture, where the Gold Country Girls' Dad used to work.
A great rollicking band played as we left downtown.
A photographer, appropriately costumed, was ready to take our photo all along the way.
We passed the Coffee Depot, which is modeled on our old Placerville Train Depot, which once sat near here.
Normadene waves at a worker at Whistle Stop Yogurt, where sister Lori used to work.
Past the 1906 railroad bridge.
Heading under Highway 50 to our last lap down Placerville Drive.
As we headed to the end of the trail, the Wagon Train drew in closer and the single riders came nearer.
This rider had a really interesting fox hat. I was glad for him that it wasn't too hot to wear it. The building beyond him is where my husband works.
The wagons turned into the lower cinema parking lot as we reached the end of the line.
Our lady directed the wagons so they all had room to park.
Time to unhitch the horses and stretch our legs.
Judy and Dolores say goodbye. Judy and I are off to home, but I think Dolores is staying for the dance and barbecue that are already getting started.
Judy and I headed to the parking lot below the party to await our husbands and their modern machines they call "cars".
As we waited, Judy snapped a shot of me. I was still basking in the wonderment of the whole ride with the wagon train. I can't wait to do it again next year!