A sheep wagon built in 1906, complete with original linoleum, is a spectacle most tourists would expect to find roped off in a museum.
But in Mancos, two entrepreneurs are working to give new life to Mancos’ “authentic old western feeling” by renting out a sheep wagon and a gypsy wagon by the night.
In the morning, they can wake up to milk Gracie the cow if they choose.
“You can have fresh milk for your cereal,” Will Stone, a co-owner, said.
Stone and Leah Starr have been working to open the Mancos Livery, behind Colorado Ranch and Home Realty on Grand Avenue in recent months, and the site has been marked by activity and the lowing of a calf.
The two officially opened for business July 1 and are now offering wagon tours of historical sites in town in addition to wagon rentals. They plan to be open through October.
At the entrance to the livery you may find Crash. The now-6-month-old steer imprinted on Stone and is known by local kids for being as friendly as puppy. Eventually, he will be trained to give rides and pull a wagon. He is the first cow that Stone has trained to pull a wagon, although Stone rode his family’s milk cows as a child.
“He will be able to pull more weight than most horses,” Starr said.
As part of his training, he pulls a small cart on bicycle wheels around town.
The red gypsy wagon and the canvas-topped sheep wagon offer cosy accommodations and will operate like a “western hotel,” Starr said. They will not be moved to other sites.
Tours will be offered in the yellow spring wagon, and they will showcase, Bauer House, the school, the Absolute Bakery and other sites, Starr said.
Stone has also been training Chubs, a picturesque haflinger horse with a gray mane, to drive the wagon. The two hope Chubs or a team of mules may be a regular sight on the streets and intersections.
After it is complete, the two plan to also offer rides in Stone’s custom-built, Concord coach. The coaches are unique because the cabin area is suspended on straps rather than springs, allowing them to rock.
“Mark Twain called them a cradle on wheels,” he said.
The coach will be painted with a Columbine theme, and the two envision it would add flare to special events like weddings. It is Stone’s 19th custom-built coach.
Stone has worked professionally driving and building wagons and carriages for many years, but he took a break from it three years ago.
“You can love something, but it doesn’t matter what you do, you can burn out,” he said.
This time, Starr will be managing reservations and business operations. She is currently a business administration major at Fort Lewis.
The two had their first rentals last weekend, and the wagons are booked for next weekend as well. Stone sees it as a good sign, but they won’t be leaving their day jobs. Stone is currently a heavy-equipment operator, and Starr works at the Marriott in Durango.
“It all takes a little time,” Stone said.
In addition to a bit of nostalgia, the new business also revives a perhaps long-forgotten traffic rule in town: Horse-drawn carriages have the right of way, Stone said.