It was a picture perfect evening Saturday at the Legacy of the Plains Museum, as volunteers worked to bring back a once highly popular destination near Bayard.
The original Oregon Trail Wagon Train was founded in 1976 by Gordon Howard just on the outskirts of Chimney Rock. The evening featured a family style dinner consisting of rib-eyes, baked potatoes, green beans, bread, and homemade ice cream. Folks also were able to be treated to horse drawn wagon rides, and an evening of campfire songs after supper.
Four or five years ago, the Wagon Train closed for good- but in February- one of the Board Members for the Legacy of the Plains Museum pitched the idea of bringing the event back for one night.
“One night I thought about the Oregon Trail Wagon Train and brought it to the board and the loved the idea,” explains Board Member Tricia Strauch, “So it just grew from there.”
She says the Board met weekly as a committee to plan everything out and hammer out the details.
Initially, the plan was to have the revival Oregon Trail Wagon Train have 250 guests, but as popularity grew, that number ballooned to 350. When all was said and done- 417 tickets for the revival dinner were sold.
Guests were treated toe-tapping music provided by the Torrington Fiddler’s Association, wagon rides provided by volunteers, and the complete Wagon Trail dinner- sans ice cream- was served up to the hundreds of guests.
Gordon Howard- the original founder of the Oregon Wagon Train- was on hand Saturday evening, and his wife Patty took the stage to thank everyone for coming out, and then rang the giant supper triangle and hollered, “Let’s Eat!”
Strauch says the evening wouldn’t be possible without tremendous community support and great sponsorship’s. Platte Valley Companies and 21st Century Equipment were title sponsors for the event, and the Weborg 21 Centre provided all the food.
As the sun set beyond Scotts Bluff National Monument, dinner wrapped up and more people arrived to the museum to enjoy an evening of rockin’ country music provided by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brother’s Band.
Strauch says the revival of the Oregon Trail Wagon Train serves as one of the biggest fundraisers for the Museum. The Legacy of the Plains will also soon be hosting their annual Harvest Festival next month, and they also have their Bandana Benefit in the spring.
Strauch added that the Board is considering making the revival Oregon Trail Wagon Train dinner an annual event. However she said Saturday evening that the biggest thing was to get through year one first before making plans for 2019.