The Annual Highway 50 Wagon Train in California

1912 re-enactment of a pioneer wagon train in Utah

Image via Wikipedia

For the last 63 years a real deal wagon train has crossed over the Sierra, Nevada passes and made its way down the mountains along what is now Highway 50.  It is called the Highway 50 Wagon Train.

The road that is now Highway 50 was one of the original California wagon train paths and allowed the original wagon train participants to make their way over the high Sierra mountains and down into the gold ore laden foothills and rivers of California beginning is 1849.

Each summer Wagon Train participants load up their wagons, ready their horses and dress in their western & gold miner best clothes and ride down the mountains over a one week period.  many people use their vacation time to ride in the Wagon Train each year.

The Wagon Train treks down Highway 50 from Stateline and Lake Tahoe and, most years, ending in the Placerville/Camino area near Apple Hill.  A few times the wagons came all the way into Sacramento which is about 45 miles SW of Placerville.  They circled their wagons at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento just as my family did back in 1849/1850.

It was always exciting to see the wagons and horses and peeps in traditional wagon train clothing with ropes, guns, campfires, saddles and all the gear that goes along with a wagon train.

Kids love it and if you are a history nut like me, nothing beats it.

How much does it cost to take part?

The full ride is just $120.00 and riding with the wagon train for one day is only $20.00.  Pretty affordable .  If you don’t have a wagon a buggy or a horse you can rent a “seat” on one of the wagons that are registered for the event.

Each night there is a Pow-Wow which is a lot of fun after a long, hard day on the wagon trail.  There are some simple rules about period clothing and some other minor things.

Who do I talk to so I can join the Wagon Train??

The wagon train has formed a non-profit (501c3) corporation.  The folks you should contact are:

Vi                                                 Tara, Event Coordinator (530)                                                 644-3761
Dianna                                                 Newborn, Wagon Master (530)                                                 677-2871
Jeanatte                                                 Smart, Membership (530)                                                 333-1654

By mail:

Highway 50 Association

P. O. Box 454

Placerville, CA 95667

The registration forms are here. (It id for 2011, the 2012 form has not been released but will probably be the same.)

What about food???  Wagon Training makes me hungry!!!

You can bring your own food or purchase meals prepared by the wagon trains cook.  The 2011 menu is here (2012 has not been released yet).  Meals for the full week (breakfast, lunch & dinner) are just $135.00, or $25.00 per day if you are not on the train for the entire ride.  Certainly a fair price since you don’t have to cook or wash dishes  🙂

If you are thinking of going the Association has put together a great list of essentials for you, clothing, camping items, horseback riders needs etc.  The essentials list is found here.

The wagon train has a shuttle service to move your supplies along the trail unless you are bringing your own wagon or buggy.

Wagon train riders face the same weather issues that the original 49ers (and early 1850ers) had to deal with.  Meaning early summer heat, late spring rain and sometimes even snow on the high Sierra Mountain passes.

In June of  2011, the Wagon Train stalled in the mountain passes with treacherous icy roads and snow.

As early as the 1840’s, a trickle of humanity began the arduous journey toward the great Pacific and the freedom they foresaw in settling there. In 1849, the cry of “Gold” from the foothills of the California territory rocked the world!”

In 2011 the Highway 50 Wagon Train held their very 1st Annual High Country Summer .  The event was held August 20, 2011 at High Hill Ranch in Apple Hill near Placerville, California.

Saddle up folks!!!



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