In the Midwest, Texas and Canada, chuck wagons were used as portable post offices, banks, and barbershops. However, they were more frequently used to supply meals to cattle ranchers, cowboys, and miners. While those days are long gone, chuck wagons are still around, thanks to antique collectors. Practical uses for chuck wagons are a thing of the past; however, if you find yourself in the possession of one, or are tempted to purchase one from an auction, here are some ideas for utilizing the chuck wagon.
Use it as a mobile kitchen. Chuck wagons come equipped with a stove and a cooking area, so refurbishing it and serving meals from it might be a lucrative small business. A chuck wagon is comparable in size to the food trucks you see set up on city streets and construction sites; it also makes a good conversational piece for your customers.
Enter your chuck wagon in national competitions. The American Chuck Wagon Association holds an annual competition in the categories of cook offs, chuck wagon preservation and the setting up of authentic chuck wagon camps. Membership criteria is available on their website.
Race your chuck wagon in a rodeo. Information can be found at chuckwagonraces.com or calgarystampede.com/events/rodeo/.
Use the chuck wagon as a planter in your yard, if it is in poor shape and cannot be used for Steps 1 through 3. Cover the inside bottom and side portions of the wagon with heavy black plastic, to prevent the wood from rotting, and fill with potting soil. To give it a more period feel, use plants that would have been found in the areas where chuck wagons were most often used. For example, wild flowers from the plains of the Midwest would be appropriate.
You must have a small business license and bring your chuck wagon up to city code, if you plan to use it as a mobile kitchen.