Herald JournalHerald and Journal, July 29, 2002

Good old days of the dray wagon

By Joe Kieser

(The events and route of travel for this story are probable only.)

The sun was just getting up in the east when the two men arrived at the barn door. The horses needed an extra pail of oats to get them through the long day ahead.

Herman Diedrick threw the heavy leather harness over one of the horses. Harry Borg was already putting the hames over the collars and snapping up the belly bands.

They had loaded the wagon the night before with 16 kegs and five wooden cases of beer. The horses needed to be hitched on to the wagon. Snaps were attached to the neck yokes and the tugs and chains on to the double tree. A beer was shared with their friends in Waverly and they were on their way.

The fly nets were dangling on the horses sides as they headed south of town.

The roads were never just right for traveling, and the narrow wooden wheels would cut into the soft spring roads. Getting stuck in a mud puddle and unloading all the beer needed to be avoided. The summer roads were rough and dusty.

The horses only walked about three miles per hour, and needed rest and water at every available pond or creek. Oster store was always a welcome sight, where they could get a morning sandwich. A slap with the reins and the wagon was headed west.

The thirsty souls of Winsted cheered as the beer wagon headed down Main Street. Fritz Moy and his helpers were waiting at the saloon doors for the soon to be arriving goods.

It took two young, strong men to lift a 280 pound keg of beer from the back or side of the wagon. The empty kegs and bottles were added to the wagon. Herman bought each of the bar patrons a beer.

Lester Prairie, New Germany, Norwood Young America, and Cologne were the next stops on their route. In Cologne they got a new supply of beer from the railroad station.

Going to Chaska, Waconia, Watertown, and Montrose was next on the list of things to do. They arrived back in Waverly after a long, hard week of work.

The dray wagon was also used to haul coal, hardware, and fresh fruit and vegetables to the market in Minneapolis. They also hauled the gravel for the creamery in Waverly.

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