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Other uses for sheep wagon

Written by Dick Perue
In conclusion of a brief history of the sheep wagon we pass along further comments by Agnes Wright Spring in her feature article, Sheep Wagon Home on Wheels Originated in Wyoming, which appeared in the December 1940 issue of Wyoming Stockman-Farmer.
    The story concluded, “The Schulte Company has continued to make sheep wagons for 40 years and is now turning out, on order, a new type for around $600 – an all metal, flat bottomed wagon, which is streamlined in every detail and is insulated with cellatex. It is mounted on rubber tires. Herders living in these wagons enjoy radios and many modern conveniences and keep snug and warm while blizzards rage.
    “In some locations automobile pick-ups are displacing the faithful, plodding teams used to move the sheep wagons about. In fact, sheep men themselves are using airplanes to go on sheep buying expeditions.
“The sheep industry, including the sheep wagon, unquestionably is keeping abreast of the times.”
    In 1993-94, Mark Junge, then editor of Wyoming Annals, launched a project to update the history of the sheep wagon under the title of “Sheep wagons: Folk Housing in Wyoming.” It included much of the information provided by the Carbon County Museum as well as the Spring article.
    Junge noted, “One of the more fascinating aspects of the sheep wagons is the fact that people other than herders made the wagons their home.
    “Although the image is that of the lone herder and his dog, the reality is that sheepherder’s wives and children often shared the wagon. In a six-and-a-half foot by 10-foot space, one wonders how this was possible!
    “Additionally, the sheep wagon served as temporary housing for folks unrelated to the sheep ranching industry, such as Bill Hudson, who lived in a wagon parked on a vacant lot in Douglas when he attended high school. A sheep wagon was Jessie A. Bryant’s first home, shared with her mother, a Saratoga schoolteacher.
    “Sheep wagons apparently served as temporary housing for many people, especially during the depression years of the 1920-30s.”
    In fact, my first home in the Saratoga area was a sheep wagon. My father, Bob Perue, tells of not being able to acquire a house in 1938 when the family moved from the Laramie Plains to the Pick Ranch below Saratoga, so dad, my mother, a younger brother and I shared a sheep wagon for six months when I was about two years old. In fact, dad used to tell me that I was born in a sheep wagon and I was about 10 years old before I knew the truth.