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On a horse with no name

The weather was hot and the ground parched when another set of travelers came through Morrill County this past weekend, their two hooved companions kicking up dust as they set off across the wide prairie in search of a place to make camp.

Oliver McCloskey, Utah man, and Kelsey Wright of Indiana started out June 23, 2020 from Independence, Missouri on a couple of young mares, hoping to ride the entire 2,000 mile plus route of the Oregon Trail. The two met last summer on a short riding trip from Indiana to Missouri and decided to stay in touch over the winter, while they planned out a journey that would take them from Missouri to Oregon on saddled horseback.

“I’ve read the [Oregon] Trail journals of my 4th Great Grandfather when he was moving out west,” says McCloskey. “My mother gave them to me when I was a teenager and I’ve been fascinated ever since.” McCloskey, who is dressed in 1800s fur trapper and Native American type clothing, is in the business of skinning and tanning hides, sewing them into clothing and onto saddles. He is wearing his own hand sewn antelope hideskinned shirt and pants with moose sinews for the fringe. He and Wright wear skinned moccasins on their bare feet and big brimmed hats; hers for a cowgirl, as she is usually a ranch hand, and his, a ranger style covering. Not only did he make all his own clothing for this trip, but also refurbished the saddle his grandfather had made long ago, sanding then dressing the tree with a new hide, and sewing on skins for comfort. All their copper and tin eating utensils, including cups and canteens, as well as the hand forged spurs they wear, were made by a blacksmith friend of McCluskey’s before the trip began.

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