Wagon trains rolling through the county

By TIM GETER,

In the American west, many settlers traveled across the mountains and plains in covered wagons in the early 19th century. On these travels it was known through history that there could have been hundreds or more wagons traveling at one time. These wagons didn’t have the basic rubber tire that one may be accommodated with today on vehicles. During the wagon days, wagons were made out of lumber and had wood spoke wheels.

Because of the many wagons on the trail, the parade of wagons had to be accompanied by wagon master or trail masters and out riders. As time went on people had discovered that 20 or 40 wagons would be more manageable.

Today, these covered wagons are used to give an authentic experience of the days of the pioneers while riding to Jackson and stopping at locations before they pull in to the Mississippi Coliseum for the up coming events of the Dixie National Rodeo.

A Gulf Coast resident by the name of Bert Massey and his riding partner Ricky Sherman rode into the Gibbstown community near Lawrence on Friday night in a covered wood wagon, joining the Central Mississippi Ride. “I started with Charlie Smith out of Newton back in the early 80’s when we would start at Brandon and then go into Jackson,” Massey said. “We would leave Cox’s Campground and went to Hwy. 25 on into Jackson where we would then stop at the Ag Museum.”

From Gibbstown the wagon train headed to Lake and on Sunday morning they gathered around for a Cowboy Church service. Around 9:00 a.m. everyone saddled up and left Lake to arrive at the Forest/Scott County Coliseum around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. From Forest the Central Ride had on the schedule to stop at four other locations, Cracker Station, Pelahatchie, Brandon and by Thursday reaching their destination at the Coliseum.

The group consist of several covered wagons and many individuals mounted on their horse. The Wagon Master Nolan Stroud, “My job is to make sure we stay on schedule and that the camp sites are safe and clean,” Stroud said.

Along with Stroud as the Wagon Master, like in the early 19th century, the Central ride consists of outriders. Justin Culpepper one of the outriders said that his job was to keep all of the riders safe from motor vehicles so that everyone could have a good ride to Jackson.

When the Central Mississippi group rolls into Jackson they will be accompanied by three other groups: the East Ride, Miss-Lou Ride, and the Rebel Ride on Thursday night. On Friday night four more groups will ride into the coliseum they are: the Smith Ride, North Ride, Mt. Olive Ride, and the Leaf River Ride.