By ESTHER COVINGTO
Utah’s Centennial Wagon Train rolled into Provo’s Pioneer Park Wednesday morning as part of Utah’s Centennial Celebration.
Provo Mayor George Stewart, Orem Mayor Stella Walsh, Miss Orem Kelly Roper and over 350 wagon train participants waved to more than 300 spectators as the wagons pulled into the park just after 11:30 a.m.
Scott Brown, a member of the Centennial Wagon Train committee, said the wagon train was created as a celebration of transportation in Utah.
“Wagons are how the people got around in 1896. Cars were invented in 1896, but no one in Utah had one. The Centennial Commission created the wagon train to commemorate Utah travel in 1896,” Brown said.
The wagon train left Logan on June 4 for the 28-day trip through Utah. Brown said the wagons travel an average of 21 miles each day, stopping three times a day for meals and rest.
The participants will continue south until they reach Cedar City on June 28. Brown said there will be a celebration at the Iron Mission State Park in Cedar City after the participants arrive.
Wagon train participants travel in covered wagons pulled by horses. Wagons and horses are provided by the participants. Brown said there are 53 wagons, 172 horses and 209 people making the entire trip.
“We have different people participating in the trek each week. The numbers of participants, wagons and horses change each week,” Brown said.
Brown said many of the wagons and participants are from out-of-state, and the participants range in age from under 5 to 95. “We have wagons from Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, California, Nevada, Idaho and South Dakota,” he said.
Natalie Helmick, 14, a wagon train participant from Woods Cross, Davis County, said participating in the wagon train has been a good experience.
“The riding is long and hot. I like going under trees because it provides shade and it’s cool. I get really restless near the end of each day, but I have learned to deal with it. The whole thing’s worth it, though,” Helmick said.
Helmick is on the trek with her sister and her mother, who is in charge of the party’s water supply. Helmick said the best thing about the trip is the people she has met.
“Everybody is so friendly. You meet someone here, and 30 seconds later you have bonded with them,” Helmick said.
Brown said participants were required to register for the event, meet the health requirements, and agree to obey the rules of the wagon train. In addition, each participant had to pay a registration fee.
“The response to the wagon train in Utah has been overwhelming. We have had lots of organizations and individuals volunteer food and money. There has been lots of community participation support,” Brown said.
Brown said the wagon train is one of several events commemorating Utah’s Centennial. The next state event will be a legacy celebration at the “This is the Place” Monument in Salt Lake City on June 29 and 30