NEENAH — Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh couldn’t bring the Wild West with them, so they did the next best thing — they built it themselves.
Using repurposed boards collected from old barns, the South Dakota natives spruced up their 140-acre farm property in rural Winnebago County by creating several structures resembling a Wild West town. There’s even a mine shack that looks like it’s straight out of an episode of “Bonanza.”
“I competed in the rodeo and was a rodeo clown in my younger days, so you could say this is our way of bringing some of the Wild West to Wisconsin,” said Rodger, who was raised on a farm in tiny Andover, S.D. “We love the Western look, which is what we worked so hard to make.”
Rodger, 78, and Jan, 76, moved to Wisconsin in 1966 shortly after getting married. Five years later, they bought their current home and its 20 acres, expanding their property little by little over the years as they gave it an Old West feel.
Not long after arriving in Wisconsin, they started giving rides year-round on carriages and sleighs. Their business, Cavanaugh Carriages, attracts hundreds of people each year eager to traverse their fields and woods on 45- to 60-minute rides.
“We’ve seen a lot of marriage proposals too,” said Jan, proudly adding, “No one has ever said ‘no,’ so we’re happy about that.”
In addition, the Cavanaughs offer hay rides and pumpkin patch rides in October, as well as a traveling petting zoo. Overall, they own two reindeer, about 20 horses (including Percherons, miniatures, Quarter horses and standardbreds), rabbits, turkeys, goats, cats, pheasants, chickens, a ferret, a donkey and a pot-bellied pig, not to mention some alpacas they’re housing. They used to have beef cattle too.
For more about Cavanaugh Carriages, visit http://www.cavanaughcarriages.com.