Celebrating the 100th birthday of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum’s newly renovated chuck wagon is part of the festivities for the second-annual Community Appreciation Day on Aug. 26.
Admission is free all day at the museum and activities are planned from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to interact with living history characters, shop at the plant sale, enjoy the food vendors, or check out the animals, exhibits or vintage tractors. Children’s games are part of the activities, as well as train rides (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for $3) and pony rides (10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for $5).
The children’s games are being managed and sponsored by the City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department.
Demonstrations on Aug. 26 include: blacksmithing, quilting, milking (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.), colcha embroidery (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.), and wool spinning (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.).
As part of the chuck wagon’s 100th birthday celebration, visitors can enjoy free Dutch-oven biscuits and cowboy coffee.
The museum’s chuck wagon, which has been transported all over the state during the past 16 years for outreach activities and demonstrations, was restored last spring by Las Crucen Dave Harkness.
“We’re breathing life back into the chuck wagon,” said Harkness, who worked on it for about five months. “It illustrates the ingenuity of the day and helps us tell a story.”
The wheels on the wagon were tightened, and the floor, chuck box, tongue, brakes, and sideboards were rebuilt. The wagon has a new canvas bonnet and bows.
“Everything is by original specifications and we used materials that were used typically back then,” said Harkness, who studied diagrams, photographs and old catalog listings for the wagon. “There are no modern fastening systems or anything like that.”
The wagon is a “double-box” Weber wagon that dates to around 1917. The museum purchased the wagon in 2001 from the Mule Creek Trading Company in Capitan, N.M.
The museum, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is located 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces. For more information, please call (575) 522-4100 or visit www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org