In 1958, a few hundred spectators attended what would grow to become one of the largest non-motorized parades in the Pacific Northwest - The Wagon Days Big Hitch Parade! Today, over fifteen thousand people flock to Ketchum to watch this historical parade and celebrate the Western heritage it represents. The parade features buggies, carriages, and wagons, with the grand finale being the Lewis Ore Wagons and the Big Hitch. These six massive ore wagons were used during Ketchum's mining heyday and traversed the steep mountain passes between Ketchum and Challis. Built-in Ketchum specifically for this purpose, the wheelbase of the wagons was sized to the specifications of the Trail Creek Summit road. These are the last wagons of their kind.
Wagon Days Parade
Ketchum Fast Freight Line
The "Ketchum Fast Freight Line" was founded by Horace Lewis soon after the town's inception in 1880. The line's monstrous wagons, known as "The Big Hitch," made two-week round trips carrying loads of ore from the Elkhorn mine to the railroad at Kelton, Utah and returning to Ketchum with merchandise and freight for local businesses. After the Oregon Shoreline Railroad reached Ketchum in 1884, the wagons distributed freight to mines and returned with ore to the Philadelphia smelter. They could carry as much as 18,000 pounds of ore and cover 12 to 14 miles per day.
The Lewis family's legacy has significantly influenced Ketchum's architecture, culture, and business landscape. Their unique ore wagons even caught the attention of the Disney Corporation. However, the family chose to donate the Big Hitch to the City of Ketchum in 1958, provided it be publicly displayed. This marked the genesis of the Wagon Days Parade, with the inaugural event coinciding with Katherine’s 85th birthday.