South Dakota’s 17-Day 125th Birthday Wagon Train Scheduled for September

Wagon Wheel


PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) Details of the 125th Birthday Wagon Train are coming together as part of this year’s celebration of South Dakota’s Quasquicentennial. The event is to be sponsored by the South Dakota Draft Horse and Mule Association. Gerald Kessler of Fort Pierre, who is a co-Wagon Master for the ride, says the wagon train will begin on Wednesday, September 3 in Yankton and will officially end in Pierre on Saturday, September 20-covering about 250 miles.

The 17-day wagon train will be made up of 15-days on the trail and two rest days. Kessler says the first part of the anniversary wagon train will mostly travel on township and county roads, in road ditches and along undeveloped section lines-near what was an old trail that went from Yankton to Mitchell to Pierre.

Once the wagon train gets to the Wessington Springs area, riders will travel cross country. From near Fort Thompson to Pierre, Kessler says the route will mostly be in road ditches near Highway 34.

Over the years, Kessler has been on about 100 wagon trains and has served as Wagon Master for six-including for the 2008 Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail Ride.  Comparing this year’s wagon train with some others, Kessler says it has involved a little less planning–since it will mostly travel on public property.

Kessler says each evening during the wagon train, local landowners and historians will present history presentations. Many communities are sponsoring meals and events along the way, too. The cost of the event is $125 per participant. Kessler says people can go along for the entire journey, but he says the cost is low enough for those who might want to only ride a few days. All fees and donations will be used to defray the costs of the wagon train, like buses, water, fuel and porta-potties. Organizers have set a limit of about 300 riders. He says people are already signed up-including some out-of-staters from Nebraska, Colorado and Minnesota. Those who want information and an application for the wagon train can visit the “Join the Wagon Train” tab on the anniversary website at

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