Wagon train recalls western history
August 5, 2003
George Davis travels about 1,000 miles per year on his horse, a hobby that is reminiscent of a time when cowboys still herded cattle and families rode over the mountains in wagon trains.
As part of this year’s mileage total, Davis, the wagon master for the Sierra Ghost Riders Wagon Train, led six wagons through thunderstorms and high temperatures, over the Sierras from Border Town to Truckee.
The five-day trip was the wagon train’s maiden voyage on the Donner Trail and part of Truckee’s Western Week. They traveled from seven to 12 miles each day, arriving in Truckee Saturday to kick off the parade.
“Hopefully this is the start of something that’s going to be a lot of fun for a few more years,” said the wagon master, playing his role well in full buckskin attire and cowboy boots during the campout Thursday night.
Approximately 50 people began the journey, with about 20 others joined them along the way. Each morning they shuttled support vehicles that carry feed for the horses to the destination of the day.
Their stop Thursday evening was at the XXX Ranch in Russell Valley, where they circled their wagons for the night. The Ghost Riders set up camp among the horses trailers and deserted wagons and made cactus tacos and margaritas.
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Approximately 200 people joined the Ghost Riders for the gathering, swapping stories and poems about the time on the trail. The owner of the XXX Ranch, Dan Seaborg, first volunteered to host the wagon train and planned a party on its behalf. Then he decided to tag along on the ride.
“They just welcomed me in,” he said. “A lot of these guys just live for this.”
The Sierra Ghost Riders are a club out of Sacramento made of “individuals that are trying to perpetuate the Old West,” said Jerry Bestpitch, a committee member and vice president of the club. During the year, they do historical reenactments at schools, weekend trail rides community service and entertain at various events.
“It’s about getting people involved in the history of California,” Davis said “(We’re) trying to get people to remember the history that got them here.”