The American West. The term conjures up images of a lone cowboy staring into a vast expanse of desert solitude. But what about the women and children? What about the towns and settlements in between the mountains?
At the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville you can experience the full range of western pioneer life. On one side of the park is a field showcasing a trapper’s cabin, a pioneer encampment and a “downtown” complete with a general mercantile. Across the creek you can see the more established pioneer life with a full replica 1917 farm, the house of which is original.
American West is located outside Logan in the Cache Valley. Every day volunteers at American West go through the routines of daily pioneer life. They act out various duties according to their roles, and onsite staff help interpret. The romance of the lone cowboy in the classic paintings slips away as you realize how difficult life was then.
“Even if you try to set things out to be ready for the next day, there is always so much to do. You’re running around from open till close to get everything done,” says a volunteer pioneer in the encampment area as he boils water over a fire to wash the dishes for his meal. “It takes a long time for the water to get hot.”
In the farmhouse, women and children busily gather eggs from the hen house (which your kids can help collect if they’re willing), pick raspberries and cart firewood from the storehouse. There’s a scheduled cow milking at 11:30, and kids line up for a chance to pull udders. Then, of course, it’s off to the miniature train station for the first ride of the day which starts at noon and runs on the hour through the afternoon.
The American West Heritage Center is a place to experience Utah pioneer life. After paying the $5 entrance fee, participation in everything else is free. Upcoming events include a 5K mud run in August, pioneer treks, a corn maze through Halloween, fall harvest festival and more.
For additional details, volunteer opportunities and event programs see americanwestheritagecenter.com