The Ore Wagon History: The "Ketchum Fast Freight Line" was started by Horace Lewis shortly after the town's founding on August 2, 1880. The railroad at Kelton in Utah carried the first load of ore from the Elkhorn mine. These massive wagons, known as "The Big Hitch", were six-foot long and made the trip back to Ketchum in two weeks. They also carried merchandise and freight for local businesses. Find out more at the Ketchum Idaho web page.
The wagons carried freight to Ketchum by the Oregon Shoreline Railroad in 1884. They also brought ore back to Philadelphia. They could carry up to 18,000 pounds of ore, and they covered 12-14 miles each day. These wagons were no longer needed after the introduction of rail service to Mackay and Challis in 1902. The wagons that parade through Ketchum's Wagon Days Parade today are a reminder of their vital role in the early days of the region's history.
The Bonning Cabin, which is located next to the Ore Wagon museum, was built in 1882. It was used for many years as a bunkhouse by the freight crews of ore wagons. This log cabin, which has a single room, was constructed from logs that were hand-squared and honed with a broad-axe. Original roof was covered in clay. It is still one of the oldest buildings in the town.
Since 1958, the City of Ketchum has celebrated its mining history with one of the largest non-motorized parades in the West, named the Big Hitch Parade. This annual event is held on the Saturday of the Labor Day weekend. The Big Hitch Parade, features quality buggies, carriages, carts and stagecoaches. The grand finale is the "Big Hitch" featuring the historic Lewis Ore Wagons pulled by a 20-mule jerkline.
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