Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jeff Laub restores sheep wagons - Wyoming's first mobile homes

Jeff Laub turned a hobby into a business. “I always had an interest and discovered I was tired of working for other people,” he said. His restored sheep wagons are in high demand. The sheep wagon was created in Wyoming in 1884 by blacksmith James Candlish. In the 1900s, sheep wagons were a necessary staple for ranches that relied on scarce winter grazing. They’re all fairly standardized, although there are slight differences. In 1892, the Schulte Hardware Company of Casper began building an improved model of the wagons. It had a window above the bed and a cast iron stove. Up until the company burned in 1950, the basic design of the sheep wagon changed little. “Every area had peculiarities. They were all similar but all different,” Laub said. These models of compactness were home to sheepherders and cowboys and are, in fact, the first mobile homes. Equipped with a bed, stove and storage, the wagons had all the necessary trappings. Built as a farm or utility wagon with extension boxes for storage and support, the wagons often began their lives with wooden wheels. “After World War II, most of them swapped the wooden tires for rubber ones,” Laub said. There was a plaque inside the wagon Laub is currently restoring that may have been moved when the bed was redone. The plaque reads “Licensed to the Caspar Body Co. Patented Oct. 28, 1919 in Denver Colorado.” The wagon came complete with the original stove, cast iron pots and tin dinnerware. The leather loops which were meant to hold a rifle were hanging from the bows of the cover. There were quilts still on the bed and the drawers under the bed were labeled “Ammo, Bandoliers and old Christmas lights.” The wagon was used as storage before Laub bought it to restore. “I’m going to take it back to 1919,” he said. He said that he’s not hung up on selling them; a buyer will come along when they’re ready. Usually the wagons are bought by those wanting a little piece of the west. “I know a lady who bought one and she goes out and sits in front of it with a glass of wine every night.” There are several of his projects in the Jackson area. Ranchers have also hired him to restore the sheep wagons that were in use on their ranches. “They’re looking for that part of their legacy and history,” Laub said...more

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