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Western Heritage Days at Fort Sill

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FORT SILL, Okla._It was day two of Fort Sill’s Western Heritage Days today. Saturday’s events kicked off with a parade featuring the Lawton Rangers and Lawton-Fort Sill Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers.

The main draw however was the chuck wagon camp where you could get a feel of what life was like on the trail.  Saturday was more than just horseshoes and hay rides. It was about teaching the history of  cowboys, chuck wagons, and the cattle drive era of the 1880's. Plus, it was a great chance to taste some chuck wagon trail cooking.

Chuck wagons came out from the problem Charles Goodnight had in the 181860'shen trying to get 2000 head of cattle from south Texas to Chicago.  Chuck wagon world champion Vance Johnson explained Goodnight's problem. "How am I going to feed the cowboys, haul all of the supplies, do everything that I need on that trail, so he bought a military wagon, very similar to the one you see here and built this box."

It's called a chuck wagon for a pretty simple reason. "The reason they call it a chuck box because food to a cowboy is chuck and therefore since they carried food in this wagon, it became the chuck wagon. Now you know when a kid says he's going to upchuck, where that came from."

They carried everything, and i mean everything on the chuck wagon.  Johnson said, "Including dental tools so we have to pull a tooth out on the trail, I am prepared."

This is a hobby and a passion for Johnson. His chuck wagon is 100% authentic, down to every detail including a 140 year old bottle of whiskey.  He dresses up and plays the part to teach the history behind chuck wagons. However, he says he likes living in the 21st century. Johnson said, "I would have loved to live back then if they had air condition and showers."

Johnson’s chuck wagon costs about twenty thousand dollars, so it’s kind of an expensive hobby, but for a history nerd like me, I could definitely do it.
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