Our chuck wagon is an original Peter Shuttler wagon.  It is a competition ready wagon, which means that per the American Chuck Wagon Association, which we are life time members, it has all the official elements you need to compete.  Not only the wagon but it has all of the antique items on it that you would have carried on the cattle drives to outfit your crew.  Peter Shuttler made one if not the premier wagons of that era.  Not only were they sought after by the gold rushers and the Mormons heading west, but by anyone who had the money to purchase the best in their day.  Our wagon is a "Rocky Mountain Special", which was made as a heavier duty model to take the punishment of the Rocky Mountain trails.

As most people know, Charles Goodnight is the one credited with the idea of a chuckwagon to serve his crews pushing cattle from Texas north to the rail heads up in Kansas and Nebreska.  After the civil war ended, there was an abundance of old army wagons.  Not the scooners of the plains but heavy, sturdy wagons.  Charles took one of these and made a design to outfit the wagon for the cow trail.  He added the bows and cover, jockey boxes, water barrel and of course the chuck box to hold all the food, store the pots and pans his crews would need to travel the trail. 

He knew his cowboys would be on the trail for weeks and months on end, and they had to have the tools with them to get the job done.  It was their home away from home.  It had to carry their bed rolls, food, coffee, medical supplies, leather fixing tools, pots and pans, water, ropes, axes, shovels, pulleys, horse shoeing tools, a traveling hardware store.  Obviously as time has told, the chuck wagon fit the bill perfectly, and supplied thousands of cowboys with as much comfort as the trail would allow.

 The cook was the most important person on the crew, and the one who wielded the most power.  What he said went without complaint.  The trail boss didn't even tell ol' cookie what to do.  He cooked the meals, moved the camp, hauled all the gear, did the doctoring when it was needed, pulled teeth, dished out any medicine when needed, (whiskey), settled arguments, held cowboys money, he was the center of camp life.  He got paid more then all the other cowboys, but he also did alot more work and got the least amount of sleep.  And if he could serve up a good plate of chuck, he was worth his weight in gold.  I'm sure that he made alot of enemies along the way but I don't think anyone with half a brain would have said anything to his face or they would have been eaten fresh buffalo pie.

 Etiquette around the chuckwagon is something sorely missing in our society today.  There was a set of unwritten rules that still hold true today.  You


Get a close up look of the chuck wagon
didn't touch anything unless the cook gave you permission.  You did not stir up dust around the cooking fire with you or your horse, you always came in down wind.  If you got up to get coffee, you took the pot around to anyone needin' some.  You never spit or threw anything in the cooking fire.  You never took the last of anything unless everyone was surely done.  You took your plates and eating irons to the wash tub, scraped your plate clean into the squirrel can and put everything into the pan.  Never use the chuck table to eat on and never tie your horse to the wagon.

 

 

 

 

 

Now any of you who have read anything on President Roosevelt know that he did some cowboying in his day.  Here is a fascinating picture of the President eating off a chuck wagon.  There are several things I find very important in this picture, first he is serving himself, just like one of the crew. Second, There are some cowboys in the picture, not just dignitaries and body guards.  Third, what style to eat off a chuck wagon with a top hat and keep it on.  If we had some more leaders like this today, this outfit would not be in the state it is in.

 

 

 

 

Fried beef, sourdough biscuits, beans, coffee pretty much sums up the menu for the cow hand on the trail.  Yes there were other things and some sweets thrown in.  Very simple food and seemingly monotonous and less then ideal dining arrangements were standard on the range.  Yet many retired cowboys get misty-eyed when they recall their food from their days with the wagon. 

 

 

"A MAN WHO HAS HAD A HAND IN THE WORK AND EATEN CHUCKWAGON FOOD WHILE SITTING ON A PAIL IS NOT QUITE THE SAME AGAIN, HE HAS BEEN HIS OWN MAN AND LIVED FREE"

 

 

 
 
JOE & VICKI JONES
928-713-6078
 WESTERN RANGE CATERING
PROFESSIONAL CUSTOM CATERING
WESTERNRANGECATERING@GMail.COM
WESTERNRANGECATERING.COM