Posts Tagged ‘Covered Wagon’

Kearney Covered Wagon photo update

November 24, 2007

Leigh and Chuck Henline of Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Nebraska, stopped at the Covered Wagon west of Kearney on their Thanksgiving trip to snap a few photos of the Covered Wagon, previously reported on here. Note the office now has a second story. Here’s a closeup of the wagon, still awaiting restoration:

NE_Cov Wag1-Henline

Or click below for a 2-photo panorama of the site. Note the houses rising behind it on what was once the 1733 Ranch:

NE_Cov Wag2-Henline

Kearney Covered Wagon Follow-Up

November 10, 2007

A few days after my story ran on the Covered Wagon, an article perhaps inspired by this blog ran on the front page of the Kearney Hub. It even featured my 1950s postcard of the place (though initial editions like the one below erroneously credited the image). Writer Todd Gottula talked to the owner and contractor, who is adding a second floor to convert the building into offices with log siding.

Kearney Hub Front Page

Gottula pinned down some dates: the Covered Wagon was sold to Boyd McClara in 1939, then Nick and Rose Ponticello purchased it in 1963. Nick auctioned many of the souvenirs in 2001 before selling the property to Hayes.

Jamie Hayes, who purchased the property four years ago from Nick Ponticello, says he wants to return it as close as possible to its original look. Since work started around the end of September, motorists keep stopping to talk with contractor Ray White and sons. Hayes says the amount of interest is unbelievable, with most making sure the site is being preserved, not destroyed.

NE_BH_CovWag
A whimsical postcard view from a Covered Wagon attraction, courtesy Bernie Heisey.

Gottula reported in a sidebar story that the site inspired local musician Mike Nicolen to write a song about the Covered Wagon after meeting the Ponticellos in 1999. His thoughts, also on his website, mirror that of many old-time LH fans: “I think instead of building a $50 million archway across the interstate to commemorate westward expansion, they should have sent someone with a tape recorder and camera out to see Nick and Rose.” Nicolen’s site explains further, “Nick and Rose held on to the place and kept it open into their 80’s when health problems finally forced them into a nursing home…. Nick told me once that the Archway people wanted to buy him out and move his beloved Covered Wagon out to the Interstate. He said ‘Why don’t you pick up your Arch and move it out here? I’ve been here a lot longer than you’ve been out there!'”

Nicolen’s song likewise tells how I-80 and the Archway draws traffic from the 2-lane. Click Here to listen to Covered Wagon courtesy of the Kearney Hub or go to Mike’s site and scroll down to the last song, He tells the story from Nick’s point of view. with lines like:

Parked along the highway of our dreams
Facing westward, time moves onward here in the land of opportunity

Now they travel down I-80 doing 85 or more
They gas up at the interchange they’ll never see my store

Kearney’s Covered Wagon Being Restored

October 27, 2007

John & Lenore Weiss recently stopped at the Covered Wagon in central Nebraska and talked with a contractor who is bringing the building, wagon, and oxen back to life. The once-busy attraction four miles west of Kearney was near the famous (and long gone) 1733 Ranch, where signs indicated the halfway point between Boston and San Francisco, 1733 miles each way. They sent two pictures that show the work underway.
Weiss Cvd Wagon 1
“The contractor remembers all of it very well!” says Lenore. “The new owner does want a 2-story building, so he is doing a fine job and will be using log siding. The oxen and wagon will be completely restored, but the oxen will stay the same colors. Inside the wagon will be an office or two, and the top of the wagon will be new canvas as well.”
Weiss Cvd Wagon 2
This is excellent news for anyone who has watched the site decline over the past 15 years, knowing the all-too-familiar fate of vintage roadside attractions. The attraction was built in 1932 by a pair of missionaries and later was run by Mr. & Mrs Boyd McClare and later Nicholas and Rose Ponticello. Kearney Planning Commission minutes from 2002 appear to approve the project that has just gotten underway.

Below are two views from its heyday, when postcards advertised that tourists could relax “and obtain worthwhile souvenirs at reasonable prices.” One of the unforgettable draws was a taxidermied two-headed calf. The two gas pumps look pretty sharp too.
BB cvd wagon pc 1

B cvd wagon pc 2

John and Lenore Weiss are known to Route 66 and now LH fans for their research, tours, and publications, including one that will soon be reviewed here that covers both famed routes plus the Dixie Highway.