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Sheep wagon originated in Wyoming

Written by Dick Perue
“The sheep wagon, a familiar sight on many Wyoming hilltops, is distinctly a Wyoming product,” wrote Agnes Wright Spring in the December 1940 issue of the Wyoming Stockman-Farmer and Wyoming Industrial Journal.
    In addition to outlining the invention of the “house-on-wheels,” as we did in the previous “Post Card from the Past,” she also noted, “Sheep were first brought into Wyoming in the late 1860s, but unlike cattle, could not be turned loose on the range to forage for themselves. Because of the constant menace of predatory animals and the inability of the sheep to protect themselves during storms, it was necessary to have a herder with them at all times.
    “In those days of the open, unfenced range, it was not necessary for the sheep owner to establish a ranch as headquarters. It was quite sufficient for him to have a house in town and to hire herders, who could follow the sheep from place to place, depending upon the condition and the amount of forage available. The herder moved over such a wide area that a shack or cabin was not practical, nor did the covered emigrant wagon provide the necessary comfort for an all-time home. Hence the idea of the well-fitted sheep wagon came into being.
    “The sheep wagons could be moved from place to place by ‘camp tenders’ with teams, who in the meantime kept the herders’ wagons supplied with food and transported hay for the herders’ horses.”
    Agnes Wright Spring continued, “About eighteen years after the first Candlish sheep wagon was put into use, the Schulte Hardware Company of Casper employed Marshall Buxton to make sheep wagons. Buxton had for some time been a buffalo and wild game hunter.
    “The special ‘mountain gear’ manufactured by the Bayne Wagon Company of Kenosha, Wisc. was used for mounting the Schulte bodies. These wagons had seat boxes…”
    But, that’s another “Post Card.”