Wagon or camp yards were welcome rest stops where horse-trading and horseplay provided relief from the drudgeries of range and farm life.
Wagon yards were a necessary convenience in the eighteen eighties and nineties - the first one-stop service stations, complete with fuel, food, beverages, and games. Travelers needed a place to keep horses and wagons when in town for a night. Operated by merchants or saloon men, wagon yards furnished wood, hay, water, and a barrel of whiskey. There were restaurants and bathhouses. Some even had a “seamstress” to “help the boys do some sewing.” Some were infamous – think: Wyatt Earp, et al, at the O.K. Corral.
|The model follows the basics of the original plan. Horse barn lower right; blacksmith upper right, Avery’s Saloon occupies “Wagonyard Eats” site top left of yard; tack shop is beside (note wagon leaving from rear dock); drover’s cottage in lower left; and, at the extreme left, two small buildings, “seamstress” cottage at top, bathhouse at bottom; and, one tiny structure, outhouse lower left behind drover’s cottage.|
|Cowboys came in from the range to put up their horses and spend the night. They were looking for fun and full of mischief. Horseracing, gambling, drinking, and practical jokes livened their time. A favorite joke was “badger” fighting. Supposedly, a dog would fight a badger. The dog was visible, and fierce. The badger was unseen – usually in a hole, or a pile of junk, with a rope to pull it out to start the fight. Betting was intense – a cowboy “way of life” – and when the time came, a newcomer set up for the game was given the job of pulling the badger out. When the sucker yanked hard, the “badger” – actually a tub full of beer, coffee grounds, ginger snaps, and anything else that seemed appropriate - came flying out, and doused him to the great good humor of all (except him). Oh, well, televised football was still seventy years away.|
|All Photography by Shari Clevenger|
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Copyright 2006. All artwork and writing by John Legry. All rights reserved.