On a cattle drive, the chuck wagon was as important to the drive’s success as a good pair of cowboy boots were to the cowboy. With a Dutch oven and some sour dough, a chuck wagon cook could feed an entire trail crew. Biscuits and beans made up the majority of what was served on the range, but the occasional dessert did make its way onto the menu when possible.
Invented by Charles Goodnight for use on the initial cattle drives out of Texas, the chuck wagon’s tradition is kept alive by Old West enthusiasts who compete and appear at events across the country. John Conway, a modern day chuck wagon cook, is helping continue the chuck wagon tradition. He sits down to talk about the history of the chuck wagon and what life was like for the cowboys on those long cattle drives and how important the chuck wagon and it’s cook were to them.
For more information on the chuck wagon, visit the Dickinson Research Center.