It’s not often you find a wagon train rolling down a country road, but this past Saturday, March 13, a group of seven wagons rolled out of a hayfield in the Butler County community of Forest Home on their way to their next stop in in the community of Braggs in Lowndes County.
They began their journey just north of Atmore headed to the SLE Rodeo in Montgomery at Garrett Coliseum.
With several stops along the way, they found respite at a hayfield in Forest Home.
The landowner said the train approached him about three years back as a nice looking place to stop and rest their teams.
He obliged whole heartedly and the train has been stopping at his hayfield ever since.
Wagon train master Donnie Waugh, said they had teams and riders from four different states this year.
One team came from Homestead, Fla., another from Jacksonville, Fla., yet another from the community of Turtletown, Tenn.; a rider from just south of Baton Rouge, La.; and a rider from Charlottesville, S.C., who happens to originally be from Germany.
Joe Reynolds, age 84 and an Alabama born native of Haleyville, said his team of 16-year-old female mules had logged 32,759 miles when they rolled into Forest Home.
The pair of mules have seen nine states at Joe’s hand and voice. He hardly uses reigns with the pair, preferring to use voice commands of “Gee”, “Haw”, and “Whoa” to correct their direction.
He stated that once when he and his team were crossing a bridge over a swollen creek, one of the mules was pulling to the right and after stopping the team the mule on the right tried to back up and fell over the side but was left hanging as Joe held the brake on his wagon and his other mule kept her ground.
A wrecker was able to lift the hanging mule back onto the bridge and she has not presented a problem since.
The wagon train planned to make the west side of Montgomery on Tuesday afternoon, where they would all make their way back home afterwards.
Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond provided the train a personal escort from Sherling Lake Road and Alabama Highway 263 to Braggs.
The group has been making the annual ride for over 20 years, typically averaging about four-miles-per hour and logging about 20 miles a day.