Old West Lifestyle & Stories


Wind WagonIn the 1860’s when a pioneer family headed out west, they usually did it in a covered wagon pulled by horses or oxen. One man, Samuel Peppard, didn’t have horses or oxen, but that didn’t stop him.

On May 9, 1860 Samuel Peppard headed out west. This was during the time of the Pike’s Peak gold rush, and Samuel wanted to do some gold prospecting. He didn’t have any horses or oxen, and he didn’t want the obligation and expense of taking care of them.

But, he did live in the Kansas Territory. And anyone who has been through Kansas knows it’s pretty flat, and the wind tends to blow rather strongly. Being a creative person, Peppard decided to take advantage of the resources at hand, and so he designed the world’s first wind-sailor. Built like a small boat, it was about 8’ long and 3’ wide, and it had four large wagon wheels. Weighing about 350 pounds, it was designed to hold 4 people.

The first time out, the wind blew the wagon over. So Peppard reconstructed the sails, rudder and brakes. By now everyone called it “Peppard’s Folly”.

With three of his friends aboard, Peppard raised the sails, and “Peppard’s Folly” took off across the prairie. Depending on the strength of the wind, it got up to 30 miles per hour.
On days when there was no wind, Peppard and his three friends just sat back, smoked a cigarette, and swapped stories.

They traveled about 500 miles before a dust devil came along and turned the wind wagon into a pile of rubble.
Peppard and his friends finally made it to Denver, but like most seekers of gold, they didn’t find anything.
Peppard later went back to Kansas, and lived to the ripe old age of 82. But he was always known as the guy who sailed to Denver.

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