Northfield, Vermont (PRWEB) January 06, 2012
Ray and Hannah Morvan, owners of Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks and Heritage Ox Farm, recently completed a five year project to construct an authentic reproduction Conestoga Covered Wagon. Built by Vermont craftsmen, the 32 foot wagon is pulled by two of their three teams of Brown Swiss show oxen. Producers of Vermont maple syrup, the couple offers Vermont farm stays in their private guesthouse on 400 acres in central Vermont. Guests can see the wagon and oxen, snow shoe or cross country ski on miles of cut trails, and in spring see Vermont maple syrup produced in their state-of-the-art sugarhouse nestled in the woods.
Intrigued by early American history and the challenges of building an authentic reproduction Conestoga Covered Wagon, Ray Morvan, Sr., owner of Heritage Ox Farm and Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks in Northfield, VT, started researching wagon designs five years ago. His wagon, completed in 2011, is based on an original Conestoga Wagon housed in Shelburne Museum’s collection in Shelburne, Vermont, and on blueprints he obtained from England.
Used by pioneer families for more than 100 years to transport freight into unknown territories of the west, Covered Conestoga Wagons were first built in 1750 in the Conestoga Valley of Pennsylvania. Pulled by 6 to 8 oxen or horses, the body of the wagon was painted blue and red and built with deep sides. The front and back ends were slanted to keep the contents from spilling out when traveling on steep terrain, and the white canvas covers, stretched over 8-12 wooden bows, protected the rider and contents from storms and heat and provided privacy.
Morvan’s goal was to build a wagon that could be pulled by his two teams of Brown Swiss show oxen: Joker, Ace, Jack and King. The oxen, some of the largest in New England weighing between 2500-3100 pounds apiece, are trained as a two- or four-hitch to pull the Conestoga Covered Wagon, as well as an ox cart and a double-seater sleigh.
Morvan commissioned local craftsmen to build the wagon from ash harvested from his 400-acre property. A four-year project, the body of the wagon is 16 feet long and 32 feet from tongue to tail and the massive iron wheels measure 47” in the front and 60” in the back. The bows that hold the white canvas canopy are also made from ash trees that were milled to the correct size, steamed and bent. The irons, an important part of the overall design of the wagon, were hand-forged locally to include the tool box hardware, hound plates, axe carriers, and stay chains.
Ray and Hannah Morvan are equipped to have their Brown Swiss oxen, harnessed in Amish-made black leather nickel studded britching and extra wide yokes, pull the Conestoga Wagon at fairs, parades and events around Vermont. On their farm, they offer ox-drawn wagon rides in an ox cart seating up to 4 people, and during the winter in a double-seated sleigh also accommodating 4 passengers.
For more information on the Conestoga Wagon, Brown Swiss oxen and their maple sugaring operation, or to make a reservation to stay in the private guesthouse on the property contact Ray and Hannah Morvan at 802-485-8525 or visit http://www.sweetretreat-vermont.com
Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks in Northfield, Vermont, offers private guesthouse lodging with full kitchen for up to five guests in the same party. Producers of Pure Vermont Gold maple syrup, Sweet Retreat Sugarworks sells Vermont maple syrup online and ships anywhere in the US, they also offer custom etched glass bottles filled with maple syrup for personal or corporate gifts and wedding favors. Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks is home to Heritage Ox Farm and 3 teams of Brown Swiss Show oxen. They offer ox-drawn cart and sleigh rides by appointment and are available to show their oxen and Conestoga Covered Wagon at fairs and events in Vermont.