methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Wagons Ho
Steve Abendorth shares his passion

    (click to enlarge)
Steve Abendorth, of Methow, stands by the Irish gypsy wagon he bought in Ireland and restored. Photo by Karen West

When Steve Abendorth was in grade school he saw a movie about the Studebaker Wagon Co., which was established in 1852 and made farm, mining and military wagons. That movie ignited a lifelong passion for restoring horse-drawn, hand-made wagons from the early days.

Abendorth shared his passion with spectators at the ’49er Days Parade Saturday in Winthrop when his lovingly restored mud wagon, chuck wagon and Irish gypsy wagon paraded through town. “This is the one and only parade they’ll ever be in,” he said before his priceless trio was driven to town.

Since 1951 Abendorth has spent time in the Methow Valley. He only missed coming one year in that stretch of 61 years, and finally he became a fulltime resident four years ago.

Standing next to his Irish gypsy wagon, he said he purchased it in Ireland and restored it piece by piece. “The two end pieces and a little of the running gear are original,” he said, adding that almost all the other wood is new. The paint job is as intricate and colorful as can be, and Abendorth said the colors and design are “exactly the way it was” originally. It was all painted freehand by a friend.

His current project is restoring a sheep wagon that once belonged to Tom Drumheller. The Drumhellers, as those who know their local sheep history will recall, were a big outfit located in the Walla Walla area, but their flocks were put on summer pasture in the hills high above the Methow Valley.

Abendorth refused to ride in the ’49ers Parade. Talking to him, you quickly understood that he’d much rather admire his trio of horse-drawn beauties as they slowly moved by.



Have a comment? >>

Those wagons are gorgeous! Thank you Steve for sharing your wagons with our community!

Kristen Smith


Steve you did a awesome job. Love the pictures

Christine Collins

Lenox, Mi

How incredibly beautiful!

Lynette Westendorf


Awesome wagons! Thank you Steve for sharing something so near and dear to you. You have preserved some outstanding history. Again thank you.

Farley Tracy