04
Sep
2015
0

Events

Wagon Days, Ho!

It’s time to get ready for the Labor Day holiday and it’s going to be a big one. Gracie Gold will grace the ice Saturday night, exotic and classic cars will be on display and for sale on the Sun Valley lawn and kids will be competing in the Adventure Games.

The wagons will be also be rolling at a can’t miss-one event that makes Sun Valley the best place to be for Labor Day. On Saturday, September 5, at 1 p.m., the largest non-motorized parade in the Northwest works its way down Sun Valley Road and Main Street in Ketchum.

The Big Hitch is the centerpiece of Sun Valley’s wonderful non-motorized parade and provides a look at the area’s rich mining history

More than 100 museum quality and charming antique wagons, buggies, stagecoaches and carriages carry local dignitaries and represent many local organizations. In addition, specialty groups like the El-Capa Bareback Riders, who ride without saddles or bridles, are also in the parade (and also display their talents at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at Festival Meadows).

But the main attraction of the parade is the legendary “Big Hitch” – six gigantic Lewis Ore wagons pulled by an authentic 20 mule jerkline. Seeing the Big Hitch is an amazing glimpse back in time to the area’s rich mining history.

Wagon Days Headquarters is the place to be to learn more about all the weekend’s numerous activities and to grab some great swag to keep the memories alive

To learn more about the Big Hitch, or any of the dozens of fabulous Wagon Days activities, make sure to stop by the Wagon Days Headquarters, located at the Ore Wagon Museum at East Avenue and Fifth Street in Ketchum. Knowledgeable staffers can answer all your questions and help you make the most of your weekend.

Be sure to leave time to also read about the fascinating history of the Wood River Valley on informative placards located in the breezeway at the museum. There, the early settlement of the area is explained with wonderful historical photos and facts.

One of the most important eras that shaped the region was the mining boom in the 1880s. Isolated mining towns were connected to Ketchum by winding and treacherous roads, many of which Horace Lewis was the architect of. According to the museum, “The lead wagon of the Ketchum Fast Freight Line was called the Lewis Lead.” The wagons were built of local hardwood and had a capacity of 250 cubic feet or 18,000 pounds. The driver, called the mule skinner, rode on the back of the left-handed mule of the rear team and controlled the teams with a jerk line held in his right hand. The Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific Railroad arrived in the Wood River Valley on May 7, 1883. The train ran from the main line in Shoshone, bringing supplies and removing bullion.

Take a few minutes at the Ore Wagon Museum to learn about the area’s amazing history and the role the huge wagons played in shaping the region

One amazing fact? Ore wagons exactly like the ones seen in the parade traveled over the precipitous first road over Trail Creek Summit, then called the Ketchum-Challis Toll Road. If you have ever driven this pass with white knuckles, take a moment to consider that the grade back in Lewis’ day as 12 percent, nearly twice as steep as the present 7 percent grade.  When going downhill on this type of rocky, steep road, crews attached large iron blocks called ‘drag shoes’ to the enormous rear wheels of the wagons to slow them down.

The ore wagons you will see in the parade were built in 1880 to haul galena ore from surrounding mines to smelter in Ketchum.

Welcome to Sun Valley for a simply memorable Labor Day weekend filled with pancake breakfasts, entertainment (don’t forget Ricky Skaggs rocking the Pavilion on the 4th), poetry, music and a good dose of the region’s wild west history.

Wagons, Ho!

--RES


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