There's a line in “Gunsmoke” that goes, “Well look there, Marshal Dillon, there comes a covered wagon.”
Like many others, Larry Osborn was drawn to Dodge City because of the popular TV and radio series. But unlike many others, Osborn decided to make the journey the old fashioned way.
Osborn and friend Josh Johnson rode their 1930's covered wagon, driven by two Percheron draft horses, from Asbury, Mo. to the Boot Hill museum, arriving Friday afternoon. They started on Oct. 5 and rode 370 miles, mostly on Hwy 160, averaging between 12 and 26 miles per day.
“It was kind of a bucket list thing,” Osborn said. “I'm 66 years old and there's a lot of people I met that said, 'I wish I'd have tried that.'”
Osborn's wagon was built in Springfiled, Mo. The two Percherons, six-year-old Tessa and 12-year-old Maggie, both belong to him. He has made one similar trip, traveling from Liberal, Mo. to Cato, Kan. with five other carriages. But this is the first time he's made the trip with just one companion, and the first time he's gone this far.
“I'm proud of them,” Johnson's mother Sherri said. “This is a big accomplishment for them to travel this far.”
“You definitely see things that none of these vehicles will ever see,” added Andrea Ritcheson, who helped bring supplies during the trip. For the first leg of the journey Ritcheson would drive back and forth to the wagon, bringing food and water. She then joined them for the last portion of the trip.
Although the wagon held up for the duration of the trip, the journey wasn't without it's share of difficulties. With the exception of nights when strangers would take them in, Osborn and Johnson slept on the side of the road. Every four days they would stop to grease up the wagon wheels. Tessa wore out a pair of shoes 235 miles into the trip, forcing them to stop to put on a new pair in Hartford, Kan.
According to Johnson, the most difficult part of the trip was finding water for the horses, since their GPS could only provide them with limited information. The passing of nearby cars also proved dangerous. When asked what was the best part of the trip, Johnson said, “I'm speechless.”
A number of people approached Osborn and Johnson on the trip, whether to offer a helping hand or just take a picture.
“I've had so many people help and just open their doors,” Osborn said. “It's an incredible experience. You forget the greatness of people until you get out there like this.”