Wild West meets Wisconsin: Cavanaugh Carriages offers Old West feel, plus carriage and sleigh rides

posted Jan. 2, 2018 9:20 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Benjamin Wideman, Regional Editor | ben.wideman@ecpc.com

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    Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh stood next to a century-old sleigh on which they've given many rides to visitors over the years. They also give carriage rides and hayrides and provide a traveling petting zoo.
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    This donkey is one of several types of animals visitors can see at Cavanaugh Carriages farm.
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    Rodger Cavanaugh checked on his two Percheron horses at Cavanaugh Carriages farm. The Percherons are used to pull large sleighs and carriages that can hold up to 20 people.
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    A variety of antlers are displayed on the front wall of the bunkhouse at Cavanaugh Carriages farm in rural Winnebago County. The large antler is from a reindeer that Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh used to own that passed away. They still own two reindeer.
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    Rodger Cavanaugh (in red jacket) led a sleigh ride for visitors at the Cavanaugh Carriages farm in rural Winnebago County. The sleigh and carriage rides last 45 to 60 minutes.
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    An old carriage used as a yard decoration is displayed near a "wild west"-themed building at the Cavanaugh Carriages farm in rural Winnebago County. Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh have so many carriages and sleighs on their property they aren't sure how many they own.
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    As part of the Old West theme on their rural Winnebago County farm property, Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh used repurposed barn boards to build Cody's Mine, which is made to resemble an old mine shaft building. It was named after their son, Cody, who lives a few miles away.
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    As part of the "wild west" theme on their rural Winnebago County farm property, Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh used re-purposed barn boards to build Cody's Mine, which is made to resemble an old mine shaft building. It was named after their son, Cody, who lives a few miles away.
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    Old horseshoes pile up on a wagon wheel outside the bunkhouse at the Cavanaugh Carriages farm in rural Winnebago County. Rodger and Jan Cavanaugh currently have about 20 horses, some of which are used to give carriage and sleigh rides. The couple have owned dozens of horses over the years.
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    The Cavanaugh Carriages farm features several buildings designed to provide a "wild west" atmosphere. This one, which houses carriages and sleighs, looks like a hotel, jail and livery on the outside. It was made with re-purposed barn boards.
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    Rodger Cavanaugh, co-owner of Cavanaugh Carriages, stood near a large set of reindeer antlers and other assorted antlers displayed on the front wall of the farm’s bunkhouse. The 140-acre farm is located west of the city of Neenah in rural Winnebago County. Over the years, Rodger, 78, and his wife, Jan, 76, both natives of South Dakota, used repurposed barn boards to build Wild West-themed buildings on their property.

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.






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