When St. George Mayor Dan McArthur asked Mel Heaton, of Moccasin, and his son Justin Heaton, of Cedar City, to head up the weeklong covered wagon train planned to kick off the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the original Dixie Cotton Mission Pioneers, it wasn’t long until much of the old Honeymoon Trail crew was called back into action.

The first Honeymoon Trail wagon train, organized by Mel and Dennis Judd in 1976, honored the pioneers who used the trail to get married in the St. George Temple, starting from as far away as Thatcher, Arizona. Mel made it an annual event until 1990, when he began to focus on trail rides. Beginning at Pipe Spring, the wagons and outriders took the five day trip to St. George, delivering cheese and produce to the LDS Temple in token of the dairy products made at Pipe Spring, and the beef cattle sent regularly from the Kanab area to support the construction crews during the building of the Temple from 1871 to 1877.

When the 2011 St. George Wagon Train began in Parowan on Saturday, October 8, Mel and Justin were ready to roll. The 200 plus participants, including covered wagons, horseback riders, handcarts, and walkers began the 100 mile trek to St. George starting in a cold rain and ending up a week later in St. George in sunburn weather. The good hot dinners that met them at the end of each day, provided by many of the old Honeymoon Trail cooks, helped keep everyone in high spirits. Pots and pans rattling at 6 a.m. along with the smell of hotcakes and sausage wafting through the camp, seemed to start the days off on a good note, with little cowboys vying for a turn to ring the breakfast bell throughout camp.

The trip provided some exciting moments including a runaway team and wagon, fortunately empty at the time, and a few dislodged riders. But the sentiment at the last camp in Ivins was, “can’t we just keep going?” The crews from Kanab and surrounding areas, though dirty and weary from a hard week’s work, were unanimous in their question, “isn’t it time to do the Honeymoon Trail just one more time?”

Local trail hands on the St. George Wagon trip were Wagon Masters Mel Heaton, Justin Heaton and Jason Bauer of Glendale. Karlia Bauer helped with needed odd jobs. Wranglers Richard Wheatley of Moccasin and Craig Johnson of Cane Beds kept the train moving.

The camp cooks were Vard Meeks, Carolyn and Glen Grygla, Connie Keller, Steve and Darlene Judd, and Carl Gurr of Kanab, Roger Chamberlain of Glendale, Rikki Phillips of Diamond Valley, and Shanna Grygla Stubbs and Kody Keller of Provo.