Take a tour of the City of Ketchum’s Iconic Ore Wagons and explore a historical collection from Ketchum’s mining era, the town’s founding, and the historic Wagon Days Big Hitch Parade. The museum also offers souvenirs, reserved seating, and information on the Wagon Days Weekend.
Horace Lewis began the “Ketchum Fast Freight Line” soon after the town was founded on August 2, 1880. The first load of ore was carried from the Elkhorn mine to the railroad at Kelton, Utah. These monstrous wagons with six-foot wheels known as “The Big Hitch made the round trip in about two weeks, returning to Ketchum with merchandise and freight for local businesses. In 1884, when the Oregon Shoreline Railroad reached Ketchum, the wagons distributed freight to mines and returned with ore to the Philadelphia smelter. They carried as much as 18,000 pounds of ore and covered 12 to 14 miles per day. By 1902, when rail service to Mackay and Challis was inaugurated, the need for these giant wagons diminished. Today the appearance of the wagons in Ketchum’s annual Wagon Days Parade are reminders of the vital role they played during the area’s early days.
The Bonning Cabin located adjacent to the Ore Wagon Museum was built in 1882. For years it served as a bunkhouse for the ore wagon freight crews. The one-room log cabin was built out of hand-squared logs hewn with a broad axe. The original roof was covered with clay. Today, it remains one of the town’s oldest buildings.