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April 22, 2010

Covered Wagon Commuters Cross Scotland County

In today’s workforce, a lot of folks put the miles on their vehicles driving to and from work. But a Kentucky family that passed through Scotland County last weekend may have the record for the longest commute to the job place.

Marvin and Debbie Carlton and their son Jesse are currently en route to western Nebraska for work. They departed Liberty, Kentucky in November of 2009 in a horse-drawn covered wagon.

The family stopped over in Newton, IL, just before Christmas, and stayed the winter on a farm where they worked bagging squirrel corn.



Marvin, Debbie and Jesse Carlton pull out on to Highway 15 as they departed from Memphis on Monday morning, resuming their trip to western Nebraska.

They resumed their “commute” to Nebraska on March 30th, arriving in Scotland County on April 16th.

The Carltons stopped at Indian Hills Conservation Area on Friday night and camped at the site for two days before making it to Memphis Sunday and setting up camp at the Presbyterian Church lot.

“We pulled in Friday night at Indian Hills to ‘change a tire’ and get some rest,” said Marvin referring to a horse in need of some shoe repair.

The needed repairs were made Saturday morning but the wagon driver decided to stay an extra day to help the horses recharge their batteries.

Once in Memphis on Sunday, the Carltons were treated to supper at Keith’s Café by Memphis “ambassador,” Dr. Harlo Donelson. They also were visited throughout the early evening by Memphis Mayor William Reckenberg and numerous horse enthusiasts whom spent the evening conversing about the trip.

The Carltons answered many questions about their mode of travel.

“I try to stick to smaller roads, but look for numbered highways so we don’t get lost,” Marvin said.

The wagon covers approximately 20 to 25 miles a day. Marvin noted he could coax 30-35 miles a day out of the horses, but with such a long trip he maintains a slower pace to conserve them.

“We just take our time and get as far as we get each day,” he said. “A lot of times, people making trips like this will trade out horses several times along the way. These horses have to make it the whole way with us.”

The Carltons were impressed by the hospitality displayed in Memphis, but added they have been warmly received at most stops along the way.

“I don’t think I have bought more than four or five bales of hay since we left,” Marvin said. “I asked a fella if he knew where I could buy a bale or two and he told me no… but he knew where there were two that he would give us.”

After a supper at Keith’s, the family had meal plans made for the next few nights as well, as Rick and Teresa Fischer stopped at the camp and bestowed on the travelers several days worth of to-go meals.

“Folks have been really good to us all along our travel,” said Marvin. “Sometimes they make it awfully hard to leave.”

The trio was back on the road Monday morning, departing Memphis around 8:30 a.m. heading north on Highway 15 en route to Highway 2.


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Memphis Democrat
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