Wagon Trains In The Early Days

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302 Highland Avenue, Plentyuiood, Montana 59254

The cover of the 1988-89 Nemont Telephone Directory prompted me to write about wagon trains in the early days (1910-1915).

The first I knew of a grain wagon train was about 1921, when my father bought the 5 tongues and the chain from a distant neighbor, who had rigged up to haul grain from the Scobey area to Medicine Lake, the end of the railroad at that time. His train consisted of a 25-50 Minneapolis and five 125 bushel grain tanks. The train on that route proved impractical so he was glad to get rid of the special tongues and chain.

My dad tried with a 20-40 Case and four Deere and Weber 125 bushel grain 'tanks'. It didn't work. The hills were too steep. A funny thing, the short hills where the tractor was able to get on level land just produced a large protest from the old 20-40 but you had to uncouple three times and relay up the hills. Two trips were enough. Besides, one had to have a team or hire one to pull each wagon into the elevator. The tractors were too heavy to go into the elevators. After that many people were hired to haul grain. Some had two horses-60 bushels, some 125 bushels with four horses. Even a few trucks (1924); three 125 bushel grain tanks, four horses each; three triples 70-80 bushels, two horses. Prior to the trucks, we had caravans.

There was a camp set up, as the livery barns could not handle so many horses. Each trip took two days, then a day of rest and load the many wagons.

In winter there were sleighs. Sleighs were much easier on the horses. The rough locks on the sleighs for going far downhill were a lot of bother, usually a log chain wrapped on a runner, and were hard to get off at the bottom of the hill.

This story started out about tractor wagons and grain trains.

A Mr. Charles Lundun had a five wagon train 40-70 Flour City at Outlook, and no troublesome hills.

Mr. Peter Glein had a 30-60 Pioneer and five 125 bushel grain tanks and did much hauling into Medicine Lake from the east.

Schnitzler Corporation, at Froid, had a 40-80 A very and five wagons, no hills. Maybe they had two trains, as I have seen an Aultman in a picture of one.

A very active merchant in Plenty-wood had three wagons pulled by early IH tractors. I cannot identify it but, they had trouble in the hills too.

Oh yes, the special tongues were made of 4' x 6' about 6' long with a loop or clevis on the end which slid over the reach of the wagon ahead. Then a shackle or clevis was attached to the chain, at the tongue of each wagon, that ran from the tractor to the last wagon. The only brake maintained on the train was on the rear wagon.

When I was 12 years old I hauled 2? miles from the threshing machine to the granary with a 16-30 Hart Parr and two wagons. Everything went well until about 300 yards from the granary. One had to uncouple to unload. Anyway, so it was and not a big deal! You tipped the hopper up and drove into position behind the wagon, tipped the hopper down, and shoveled the load into the drag elevator.

Not many people had an elevator then. Ours was a John Deere with a four horse R & V which I still have. It was new in 1917.