All Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival

Print Friendly

wagontrainBack in June, George Ure wrote a piece for his Peoplenomics subscribers titled “The New Wagon Train”.  In it, he describes a scenario where a group of well stocked RVs head out to their survival platform in Arkansas.  Each RV had a purpose and the caravan heading down the highway was akin to the wagon trains that headed out west oh so many years ago.

I loved this piece.  It set the brain cells in gear and got me thinking about how I needed to find some like-minded folks that would be willing to join together to acquire a small parcel of farm land that could be set up as a survival retreat.  This land could be jointly worked and would enhance our efforts to be self-sufficient.  After all, a true survival platform has to have room to grow real food and raise chickens.  My tiny square foot garden of greens plus veggies in pots are nice but will never provide for serious nutrition and sustenance.  I love my cottage but . . . if the SHTF then what ?

Like I said, the brain gears were chugging, envisioning my own little wagon train heading out to the farm.  I even enlisted Survival Husband who is onboard with the concept.  Thinking that I have a good thing going and wanted to share, I rang up George (of fame) and asked his permission to reprint the article.

And so, for your reading (and day-dreaming) pleasure, I am proud to reprint:

The New Wagon Train

The dream crystallizes as a caravan of four RV’s coming down I-40 toward Springfield, Missouri.  It’s the modern analogy to the wagon trains that headed West. Down the gently rolling hills of Missouri 65 and a night in Branson, Missouri before heading out highway 76 east where they pick up Arkansas 5 heading for a piece of property the four families had picked up on the internet and bought site unseen. It was not too far from Mountain Home, AR.

The price wasn’t bad…about $5,500 per family when it was all said and done.  Very much like this piece, although with a few more pines further south from Bull Shoals Lake.

Their RV’s were packed to the gills.  Each one has an assigned purpose that each family had contributed to – and since each was a diesel pusher-type bus, they each carried two 55-gallon drums of diesel inside in addition to 100-gallon tanks they’d agreed would be needed.

The drums were an interesting decision, since while not strictly legal to move around that way, the drums would be very useful at the new property.  A couple of barrel stove kits and some flattened stove pipe to be assembled, assured the families they would have heat in the winter.  Their choice was in that peculiar band of Arkansas where winter ice storms were fierce and they had plans for small underground homes.

It was this decision that drove some of their other decisions.  How to spread the load around the modern ‘wagon train’ to the hills of the unpopulated Ozarks.  Each family had a particular focus and while the property had cost each family only $5,500, the rest of the outfitting had cost nearly $10,000 each.  But the land was paid for, taxes good for a year, and prospects were high.

They were coming from Michigan – near Ann Arbor.  Their home prices had all collapsed, there were no jobs, and the violence from Detroit was spilling out  to the West quickly. Interstates once a blessing were now cursed.

Government was cracking down on everyone and there were rumors as they pulled out in late October, taking the eight kids they had between them out of school to leave in the predawn hours of a Wednesday morning. that gas and diesel rationing would come within a month.  Keys to their homes were dropped in the mailbox with notes explaining it was keys in lieu of foreclosure.

They’d all bought their homes in the late 1980’s and thought they’d be immune to the housing meltdown, but when the next rounds of layoffs started in August of 2011 the pink slips came home and they knew it was time for swift and decisive action.  Cards maxed out on supplies, they’d never pay them back.  Just desserts for the bankers, they thought.

One RV was “the tool rig”.  It carried everything they thought they might need, short of a small diesel tractor, to get them started.  Even a small gas welding rig. A couple of chain saws, 2-cycle oil mix, and they’d buy some av-gas at one of the local airports which didn’t have methanol in it so it would be sure to last a while without gumming up.  Hand tools mostly, including cross cut saws, spokeshaves and the kind of hand tools not seen for a hundred years.

The second RV was set up as the Housing Rig.  It carried everything from boxes of linens to dishware (they opted for Corel since it was tougher than the designer pieces they had previously).  Silverware, kitchen gear and several tents of the outfitter type, complete with a tent stove, and sleeping bags for everyone. Candles, cases of toilet paper – which along with some pencils and tablets were the only paper products on the trip.  The time of paper towels was done.

The third RV was the food rig.  Seeds for two years of intensive gardens, a large collection of canned goods, spare canning lids for the future, More buckets of wheat, corn meal, and rice, plus spices, mixes of this and that plus vitamins, first aid kits, and even snake bit gear, since the area they were moving to had copperheads, rattlers, and the odd scorpion and brown recluse spider. Sprouts, fishing gear, flour grinding equipment, butchering books, canning gear, the whole lot.

The fourth RV was Coms and Power.  It carried 10-deep cycle batteries, a couple of solar charge controllers,  a 24-volt sine wave inverter, a pair of 30-foot towers to mount their two wind generators on, and cabling, LED lighting and more.  Packed onboard were 10 200-watt solar panels they’d found on sale.

With the extra diesel they were bringing, the saved money for a well, or two, plus the RV’s to use as their starting point, the first winter or two shouldn’t be too bad.  Each rig now carried four 40-pound propane tanks, and they wouldn’t freeze to death.

Sheets of Lexan didn’t take up much room, and with kid labor – and very excited about actually ‘going back to the land –  putting in some hot boxes to bring in some broccoli for winter shouldn’t be too difficult.  Winter cabbage?  Maybe.  They knew farming would be tough, but the area had plentiful game, deer, birds, and good fishing.  They wouldn’t get fat, but they would get by.

A couple of sacks of Portland Cement and they figured a simple wood-fired stove could be built.

Each of the rigs was armed:  They’d decided each should carry a shotgun, a 7.62X39 long rifle and a 9 MM handgun.  Defense if needed, but out in the woods, they would become tools of survival.  A good supply of ammo and cleaning gear, it went without saying, and since they’d agreed up front which guns to buy, parts were interchangeable.

Water filters and some large plastic water containers were in the Housing rig, some charcoal and filled refrigerators and freezers.  A good stock of pints of booze as trading stock, a few dozen cartons of cigarettes, but an equal amount of chewing tobacco since they’d read that was as much a local favorite in that part of the world.  And when their trading goods ran out, the local moonshine was pretty good and came in genuine Mason jars; no warning labels needed.  The jars reusable.

The phone rang.  My nap was over. As the vision faded I looked at the screens and reassured myself it was still just June 12th, making a promise to keep my eye out for that place up near Ann Arbor when we head to the newspaper columnist’s convention in Detroit in two weeks.  I seriously want to meet these people and talk ‘wagon train planning” to ’em.

They were onto something.

Pretty cool concept, don’t you think?  BTW, Peoplenomics is subscriber based at $40 per year.  I plan to sweet talk George into offering Backdoor Survival readers a deal.  Stay tuned!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day:  Missed Thursday’s Doctor Prepper Show with yours truly?  You can listen here (press the arrow):      If you have an mp3 player, a cool thing to do is load up your player with survival and preparedness podcasts, grab your hikers, and head outdoors.  Good exercise for the mind, body and soul.

From the Bargain Bin:  I have lots of new items ordered for my survival pleasure.  That is my excuse for getting new gear ha ha.

In addition to my newly ordered Presto 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner ($64.79 with free shipping), I have ordered a Volcano II Collapsible Stove from Emergency Essentials.  I have wanted one of these stoves for quite some time.  With almost 100 pounds of charcoal ready to go in my garage, it is time to do some outdoor cooking without relying on propane.

You know how much I love my cast iron skillet.  I now think it is time to get a Dutch Oven.  I have my eye on the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven which is $28.97 versus the 7 quart version at $52.29.  Not quite sure which one to get given the price differential.  I love my pan scrapers so I will also need to see what other do-dads I can get to use with my cast iron.

And finally, I want to remind you that the price of the price of 20 Gallon size Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers is still 16.99, down almost $5 from a month ago.

Like this? You might also like:


All Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival — 15 Comments

  1. Gaye.

    I refer my members to your site and I have a group on Sodahead…I would love to post this Wagon Train story for my members to read. Could I get permission to do such. Love your site…don’t know which is the better yours or Georges’; so I will just say ‘Whoorah! and Bravo’ to both of you.

  2. I love my Presto canner. It had been my MIL’s and she passed it along. I’m sure you are ordering extra parts (gaskets, etc). Have you tried the Tattler lids? I’m going to review them eventually. Re-usable!! Perfect for the preparedness-minded person!

    • I am a 100% canner newbie. Extra parts? Gaskets? Jeesh – I was worried about jars and safety. I have a lot to learn about canning but I know it will be both a fun and useful adventure.

      • I just started canning this year using a pressure cooker. As long as you follow the directions everything works out fine. I have had no problems.

    • I agree the Wagon Train article was great. Where do you find four like minded families in the Greater Seattle area.

      • That is the challenge. Here on our island I have identified one couple so far. My thought is to join up with one couple then incrementally add others over time. The issues, of course, have to do with money (who pays for what) and also the division of labor over time. Trust is a huge factor and not something to be taken lightly. S.W.

  3. Very instructive is reading the manifests of the real wagon trains. Those people took tools, materials and renewables, and relatively fewer consumables than modern folks contemplate.

  4. This was a great article. I have been thinking the same
    thing, but everything we have is here, so we would have to bring people here, maybe 2 other couples. we just paid off our place, and can soon continue more gathering. there is plenty
    of game here, seafood, wood, and we’ve started a pond that will be stocked with a few different types of fish. best of all, you can’t drive to it.homesteader husband knows many skills and I for the last 15 years have been working on gardening, food stuffs, heirloom seeds and such.

  5. sw, the 5qt you linked to is not a true dutch oven. a dutch oven has legs and a rim on the lid to hold hot coals for cooking bread n such. we’re going with the 8 quart because we figure we’ll be feeding more folks over time, and we want to do the hobo stew thing. thats where you keep a pot on the fire 24/7 and folks help themselves and add stuff as they can. …as to the article, we wish!!

  6. I know people just headed west and planned to settle when they found the right spot. The idea of doing the same thing today surprised me a little. But given the situation the people in the story found themselves living, it makes sense.

  7. Good fiction. Could happen that way…Work buddies in the “good” times buy RVs, become RV camping buddies, all get laid off together and decide to get outa Dodge together. I like the idea of four families getting together on a venture like this. IMHO that is about the minimum number to keep farming going when watches need to be kept for defense. As for defense, the weapons mentioned, while all acceptable, are a bare minimum. At least one firearm for each person is needed, and i would recommend two, one handgun and one long gun. In addition, a couple of .22 rifles for cheap rodent elimination come in handy on most farms in normal times. In abnormal times. one might want a few long range rifles also, depending on the site and its “fields of fire”. One rifle that could reliably stop a vehicle at 1000 yards might help avoid a nasty firefight or two, assuming there is a trained rifleman available.

    Have you tried to talk to your work buddies about prepping and/or survival issues? When i tried it i got looks like i just landed from Mars; knew better than to raise the subject again. Having four families you know and trust working together for survival (in advance of necessity) is like winning the lotto. Getting any four guys to agree on the same weapons is no mean feat either!

    In the real world, few laid off folks with underwater houses are likely to buy RVs new or used; makes more sense to load stuff into a rental truck. Few would buy land site unseen for survival homesteading, one person (at least) from each family would inspect the place first. If anticipating an imminent move to the site, at least one person would remain on site to manage construction, accept deliveries etc. Maxing out cards and hauling the stuff makes sense if the credit rating is about to tank anyway. But if possible, an advance family with enough cash not to do this, might be able to order heavy stuff (tractor, sawmill etc and a hoop house, dome kit, steel building kit or whatever could be put up and these items be delivered to the site. Unless there are multiple other sources of water (doesn’t say) the well should be put in right after purchase in a case like this.

    What i really liked about this story is it got me rethinking the issues involved. Having made my plans before Y2K, a challenge to revisit them is welcome every now and then.

  8. A better choice for transporting large amounts of “stuff” with a motorhome is to pull a cargo trailer. They hold more in terms of volume and/or weight. The weight distribution and capacity on a motorhome is something to consider. Probably if you have a family with all their stuff and food etc you have already reached the max weight and probably have messed up your weight distribution. Another advantage to pulling a trailer with critical supplies is in the event of a breakdown someone else can hook up the trailer and get it to your destination. Best situation for this four RV wagon train is two large trailers and two 4WD vehicles in tow. In a pinch one of the 4WD’s could pull a trailer. I have seen a large class A motor home pulling a 28′ x 8.5′ cargo trailer and although the combination looks awkward as the driver it is really no big deal on normal roads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.