Square in downtown Champion was packed as eleven wagons from the
West Plains Wagon Club paused for a rest on Thursday, September 17th. With
Wagonmaster Clifton Luna in charge, this was the fourth day in a
weeklong trip that takes the wagon train from West Plains to
Stone is caught snoozing on the rest stop at Champion on Thursday
while Ken Feltz sees to his mules in the background. Coy and Kathie
Stone have made this trip several times. They are part of the Gee
Haw Club out of Viola, Arkansas.
Feltz' wagon is covered in vinyl siding. It's red and white. He is
out of Viola, Arkansas and has been driving wagons for about three
years. He has had horses all his life. He said that he first heard
about Champion from his brother-in-law, James Carol, who used to
make the trip every year. This was his first trip through Champion
and he thinks he'll do it again.
and Joyce Crow are out of Salem, Arkansas. They have been making
this trip since 1983. Their mules, Soux and Chaynne, are sisters.
Mr. Crow says this is the third team he has worn out on this train.
The sign on the back of the wagon says, 'Forget the dog, Beware of
the Mules!' The dog is named Taco. Mr. Crow tells the story about
coming through Champion back when Ed Henson still ran the store. At
that time Vernon was smoking cigars and he asked Ed if he had any
Dutchmasters of the kind he used. Well, Ed didn't have them, but the
next year when the train came through he had some. It was the kind
of thing that made Ed a memorable character in Champion. Mr. Crow is
a memorable character himself.
Jackson is from Ozark, Missouri and part of the Salem club. He made
the trip two years ago and started out on it last year but had to
drop out. His grandson had been in a serious auto accident and he
left the train to go see him. His grandson made a good recovery and
Jackson is pleased to be back on the trail. His mules are Boomer and
Dora and he raised them himself. He said that he has been doing this
for a good forty years.
the second year that Jim and Judy Cantrell of Mansfield have had
this wagon in the train. It is their thirteenth year on this
Horseback riders accompanying the wagon train pause for
lunch at Henson's Store on the North side of the Square in Downtown
Bingham is enjoying his first trail ride with his Granddad, Don
Breauchy of Vanzant. Jeffrey is a spirited, autistic ten year old
just learning to ride. He and his horse Trey are getting along
and Nancy Webster of Bloomfield, Missouri have been driving their
wagon for 15 years. Their two year old granddaughter, Breanna,
joined them for the Mansfield ride with the West Plains Wagon Club.
They had a nice rest stop in Champion and seemed to like the
Websters recently drove their wagon to Wisconsin from Bloomfield.
Webster said that it took three months--a month going and a month
coming back with a layover of a month. They had some adventures, but
no real problems. Their mules are Candy, Kate, and Joe. He tells the
story that just after having crossed the Chester Bridge somewhere in
Wisconsin they camped for the night and when they woke up one of the
mules was missing. People in the area helped them search and they
found the mule behind a Wal-Mart about a mile and a half away. He
made some remark about the mule taking after Nancy in her desire to
is a new wagon for Jerry Sanders. He recently bought it from Elvin
Hudlow, a well known wagon builder from Pottersville, Missouri. Last
year Jerry drove his 3/4 size Springfield wagon. This year he
enjoyed the company of passenger Diane Batcheller of Ava.
Leaving the hospitality of Champion, the West Plains
Wagon Club crosses WW Highway. Of the 120 miles of the trip the
wagon train travels only about ten miles on pavement.
Looking over the backs of Molly the mule, and Dusty the
horse, the wagons of Marvin and Nancy Webster and Ruben Phillips can
be seen climbing the hill ahead. Shelby Blades likes being the last
wagon on the train. He says that it is good to be able to stop
whenever he wants to without holding up the train. The rain has kept
it from being such a dusty position this year.