By Riley Bradshaw, Wood River Museum Intern
As summer slowly draws to a close Wagon Days Parade and Celebration quickly approaches. Held annually during Labor Day weekend, since 1958, thousands have gathered in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area to witness the infamous Big Hitch in the Wagon Days Parade. The parade and festivities are a historical spectacle celebrating the valley’s rich mining past, serving as a living tribute to the many communities that shaped the Wood River Valley. Most notably is the parade’s grand finale, known as the Big Hitch, where the train of six ore wagons makes its turn from Sun Valley Road onto Main Street. The wagons pay homage to the diverse communities that once thrived in this region, each wagon, buggy, carriage, or cart highlighting a particular chapter in the Valley’s history. This commemoratory event embodies the many defining histories of the Valley including this Wagoneer Sam Sanders shown in this photograph taken in 1924. Sanders had operated the ore wagons under Horace Lewis, son of Ketchum’s founder Isaac Lewis. More commonly known as “Uncle Sam,” Sam Sanders was the last to drive the ore wagons when they were still being operated and up until the Ketchum Fast Freight Line closed.
Note this story was originally published in August of 2023 in the Idaho Mountain Express.