POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Traveling the way people did 150 years ago, the first journey of the newly formed Ripley County Wagon Train Ride Association set off down Bay Nothing Road.
During the ride, held recently southwest of Grandin, participants encountered many of the things you read about or see in movies associated with wagon trains: unpredictable horses, wagon accidents, campfires, bad weather and 15 miles a day.
Four wagons led the train out of camp at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, carrying nine people. Twenty horses and riders followed along.
Roughly 40 minutes into the ride, the wagon train met a more modern inconvenience: a pickup along the gravel forest road. The driver of the pickup turned off the engine when he saw the train, but started up again before they cleared.
The sudden sound of the engine caused George LeGrand's green broke team to bolt. One of the horses jumped over the front end of the truck on the driver's side. When it came off the truck, the other team horse hit the ground and was penned for several minutes.
LeGrand banged up his nose falling out of the wagon onto the horses, and one of the horses was skinned up. After unhitching the team, LeGrand rode one of the horses and led the other back to camp.
"Other than the early misfortune, we had a wonderful day, seen some pretty country," said Don Bulington, president of the club and one of the wagon drivers on the five-hour ride.
He said there are 30 families in the club and about 70 members from such areas as Doniphan, Koshkonong, Fairdealing, Poplar Bluff, Advance and Piggott.
The club plans to gather several wagon loads of toys at Christmas to give to needy children. There also are plans for four sanctioned rides next year, plus a 100-mile ride.