Welcome, wagons!

Daryl Hopson drives a stagecoach that brought to Walla Walla in 1862 and used on runs from Walla Walla to Lewiston and Orofino, Idaho. The coach is a regular participant in this year’s Fair & Frontier Days events.

Daryl Hopson drives a stagecoach that brought to Walla Walla in 1862 and used on runs from Walla Walla to Lewiston and Orofino, Idaho. The coach is a regular participant in this year’s Fair & Frontier Days events. Photo by Andy Porter.

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WALLA WALLA — If you are the shy type, don’t sit on top of a stagecoach.

“People always look,” said Daryl Hopson, as heads turned to watch him guiding the bright red and yellow carriage around the county fairgrounds last week.

The stagecoach Hopson was driving that morning was no reproduction. Brought to Walla Walla in 1862, it was one of two that carried passengers on regular runs from Walla Walla to Lewiston and Orofino, Idaho, and back.

For the past few days, the coach has been back in service, bringing dignitaries into the fairgrounds arena during the grand entry for the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days rodeo. It was also among the historic carriages in Saturday’s Frontier Days Parade.

The stagecoach is just one of a number of historic horse-drawn wagons and carts on display this year at the fairgrounds, courtesy of the Fair & Frontier Days Wagon Masters. Some are from Hopson’s personal collection, while others are from the fairground as well as other owners.

Along with the stagecoach, one of the gems in the collection is an authentic chuck wagon, which did years of service with The Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. Just like the cattle on the ranch, the wagon itself bears the brand of its owners, four sixes (6666) carved into the tailboard.

Another historic wagon in the lineup is a grain wagon owned by Del and Donny Kennedy. Constructed close to the turn of the century, the wagon was a working vehicle on wheat farms for many years until it was put into storage for decades before being brought out for this year’s fair.

“This hasn’t been hooked to an animal for 40 years,” Hopson noted.

Other classic wagons in the display include a surrey, a wagonette and a pair of two-wheeled carriages which are still popular today (although made with modern materials, such as roller-bearing wheels and hydraulic brakes.)

One other classic is a buckboard, a four-wheeled wagon seen in countless film and television westerns which takes its name from the front-most board in front of the driver’s seat. That board served as both a footrest and protection for the driver from the horse’s hoofs in case of a “buck,” hence the name.

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