Lunch & Learn: Author to speak about Daniel Boone Wagon Train
by Staff Reports
It must have been a strange sight to see 50 years ago: a wagon train rolling through the Town of Boone. But there they were, old farm wagons creaking along on wooden wheels, pulled by horses, mules, and oxen, and completing their three-day journey over the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains to gather at the new football stadium for the official welcome and ceremony.
North Carolina was celebrating its 300th anniversary and the folks in Wilkes and Watauga counties had put on the best show across the state. And that night, the wagoners and the parade-watchers alike gathered at "Horn in the West" for the opening performance of the 12th season of the play which celebrated the life and times of America's pioneer hero for whom the town and the Daniel Boone Wagon Train had been named.
"Everyone and his cousin was in town to see the Wagon Train," reported the Watauga Democrat in 1963. "Dan'l Boone himself couldn't have brought more people to the town which bears his surname. They formed a blanket of many-colored clothes on the Daniel Boone Hotel lawn. They stood thick as molasses along the narrow sidewalks. They sat in second story windows and waved to persons below."
"These are the sorts of memories we want people to hear about and to share," said Mark Freed, cultural resources coordinator at the Jones House Cultural and Community Center. "People continue to talk about the Wagon Train, and it all happened right out in front of the Jones House five decades ago this month."
The Jones House is hosting author Randell Jones on Thursday, June 20, at noon for a Lunch & Learn event. He will be talking about his new book "The Daniel Boone Wagon Train -- a journey through the Sixties." He will have a PowerPoint presentation with lots of old photos from the annual Daniel Boone Wagon Train events that continued from 1963 through 1973.
"For anyone who remembers the wagon trains or for anyone who remembers the '60s, it is a guaranteed walk down memory lane," says Jones. "It's all there -- the '60s."
The book lists all the movies, TV programs, and music that were popular each of those years, and Jones weaves in the important events of national note that surrounded these times: civil rights movement, the Beatles, the Space Race, Vietnam, Woodstock and Watergate.
"But the real story is the wagon train and all the fun those folks from around here had every year," Jones said. "Lots of people came from all over the country, and some from Canada. It was a pretty big deal around here and it was how our parents and grandparents celebrated their community back then."
Randell Jones will exhibit his books at the High Country Festival of the Book on June 22 at the Watauga High School; and he will give another talk on the Daniel Boone Wagon Train at noon on June 29 at the Watauga Public Library.
The book will be available at the gift shop during performances of "Horn in the West" throughout this year's 62nd season. You can read more about Jones' books at http://www.danielboonefootsteps.com.
The Jones House Cultural and Community Center is located at 604 W. King St. For more information, call 262-4576.