Wagon Train & Horseback Riders
E.T.I. Corral 14 Western Wagons
Our Death Valley Wagon Train commemorates the first wagon train that passed through Death Valley in 1849 on their way to the gold fields. There is much history to be learned in reading of the troubles these hardy pioneers endured.
Corral 14 was founded in 1967 by a group of older folks that wanted to stay active with horses. They decided that since they were getting a little past the age they should be riding horses they would turn to wagons and Shetland ponies. They built scaled down wagons and set their sights on doing a wagon drive through Death Valley. The original group was five women, five men and two children. Vern Gentert was the Wagonmaster. They hitched up their ponies and headed for theDeath Valley 49er Encampment that is held every November. They were such a hit with the crowd upon arriving, after 60 miles of untried wagon trails, that the 49er’s made them promise to do it again. It has happened every year since.
The Shetlands and small wagons are not as common on the drive today as many teamsters have replaced them with full size wagons with mule or draft teams. There is still no size limit with our wagon trains and they have everything from mini-mules, donkeys and draft breeds. The style of wagons also vary from traditional wooden wheels to rubber tires. Chuck wagons, camp wagons and buckboards can be seen on one of our wagon trains, in addition to every style of wagon imaginable.
The drive length varies from year to year. Some years we gather at Wade monument and have 11 days on the trail. Other years we gather at Ashford junction and experience rugged outdoor living for 8 days.
We schedule a layover day at Tule Springs to give man and livestock a rest. It’s filled with fun starting out with a waffle contest in the morning and Olympic style games like “how many spiders in the bottle”. Evening hours are filled with fixing your favorite dish, Dutch oven is very popular. These culinary delights are then shared with the entire camp and the adventurous 49ers that drive out to join us around the campfire for music after dinner.
The Corral membership is scattered all over the western U.S. and members comes together to meet up with old friends and make new ones around the campfire.
We have added more drives to our yearly schedule in recent years. We do a spring and fall weekend drive. We have a 5 day drive in May, prior to Bishop Mule Days that travels thru the Owens Valley following the old Narrow Gauge railroad bed on the east side. This drive gathers at the LonePine Film Museum and allows those who wish to come a little early the opportunity to drive in the Alabama Hills.
The current president is Norm Noftsier. If any further information is needed please feel free to contact him at 661-270-1161 or firstname.lastname@example.org