The Chuck Wagon: Official Texas State Vehicle

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Tony Maples Photography


In 2005, the chuck wagon was designated the official state vehicle of Texas according to statesymbolsusa.org. The chuck wagon was an integral part of the cowboy lifestyle. “Charles Goodnight (a Texas rancher) is credited with the concept of the chuck wagon in 1866, based on the Conestoga wagon (or simply ‘covered wagon’). ‘Chuck’ was a slang term for food, and chuck wagon food included items that were easy to preserve such as salted meats, coffee, beans, and sourdough biscuits,” shares the State Symbols website.

The chuck wagon has had a significance among the culture and history of the State of Texas since the great cattle drives that lasted from the end of the Civil War to the mid-1880s as shared by its website. “During the early days of the trail drives, a cowboy relied for survival strictly on what he could carry with him, experiencing hunger and discomfort.” Goodnight’s upgrades and design became the model for all future chuck wagons.

Watch the video below from the “National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum” to learn about the history of this official state vehicle of Texas.

Today, there are over 123 registered chuck wagon and over 200 members, according to The American Chuck Wagon Association (ACWA). “The association’s members are committed to restoring and maintaining chuck wagons with their own resources, which has ensured that the chuck wagon will continue to function as a viable tool for many of our Texas ranches and add to our state’s historical and cultural charm,” shares statesymbolsusa.org.

The association holds cook-offs in 10 states. Thirty annual events are held in Texas, and four are right here in the Hill Country. From the current president’s message on their website, he shared that he went to the 7th annual Wagon for Warriors event in Lebanon Missouri on Memorial Day weekend. “There were about 30 chuck wagons there to prepare food for the community and its veterans.”

Planning for the second ACWA Championship Cook-Off has already started! It will be held April 5-7, 2018 at the Gillespie County Fair Grounds in Fredericksburg, Texas mentions americanchuckwagon.org.

For more about the history of the Official State Vehicle of Texas visit: americanchuckwagon.org and the statesymbolsusa.org websites.