Anthony Jaynes / Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - From left are, Jeff Spandau, Gloria Leight and Wagon Master Norm Noftsier of the Equestrian Trails Corral 14 Western Wagons Group.
Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Equestrian Trails Corral 14 Western Wagons Group stopped for lunch on the Old Spanish Trail between Tecopa and Pahrump.
Mark Waite / Pahrump Valley Times - Contestants in a costume contest march in the annual parade Saturday morning.
Mark Waite / Pahrump Valley Times - Musician Mary Kay performs before the start of the parade for the ‘49ers Encampment at Furnace Creek Saturday. She also entertained at nightly concerts during the event.
If you happened to be at the south end of town, towards the end of Homestead Road last Friday afternoon about 1 p.m. you may have seen a wagon train right out of the old West. The Equestrian Trails Corral 14 Western Wagons Group was hosting a Shoshone to Pahrump wagon train drive.
In the past, the group made the run from Pahrump to Shoshone and continued on with a 50-mile trip through Death Valley for the annual Death Valley 49er’s Encampment. However, this year Death Valley has suffered many road washouts when the area experienced torrential rains and highway officials nixed the trip. So, the group decided to make the run from Shoshone to Pahrump in conjunction with the Shoshone Old West Days celebration held Nov. 1-3.
Equestrian Trails holds four events per year, one Lone Pine to Bishop, Calif. drive, a Mojave wagon drive, an overnight wagon drive in Lancaster, Calif., and the final wagon drive in Shoshone and Death Valley. The events attract anywhere from six to 15 wagons participating.
The final run took five days with one of the days being a layover day. The group crossed part of the Old Spanish Trail and part of the Immigrant Trail on their journey to Pahrump. Wagon Master Norm Noftsier said, “The drive was 55 miles long with the first day being the longest amount of distance traveled, 18 miles. The last day was 10 miles.”
Eight wagons participated, one of the wagons came from Montana, another came from Arizona and the remaining rigs came from California. On the final day, Pahrump resident Robert Cronk joined with his donkey, Dusty, making a total of nine wagons. There were 17 individuals riding in the wagons, four outriders and two support crew members for a total of 23 participating in the drive.
The group had a small layover day in “Resting Springs,” four miles outside of Tecopa. “The caretakers of Resting Springs, Alan Hart and Penee Hull, were a blessing for the group. They treated us like family. They created a fire pit, stocked wood, loaned the group a diesel generator for their shower, fixed a bridle that broke and fixed a flat on one of the wagons among many other things,” said member Mary Jo Steele. The caretakers were also excellent historians and told a story or two during the group’s stay.
The group holds the wagon train drives to raise awareness. Horses and mules were the only transportation that could withstand the rough terrain. It make particpants realize what the pioneers went through to make similar journeys.