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Joliet coaches leave for historic debut at Rose Bowl Parade, Ina - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Joliet coaches leave for historic debut at Rose Bowl Parade, Inauguration Day

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Dave and Diane stood in front of the creations before the wagons were shipped to California on Tuesday. (MTN News Photo) Dave and Diane stood in front of the creations before the wagons were shipped to California on Tuesday. (MTN News Photo)
JOLIET -

Small town Montana craftsmanship will be on full display during the Rose Bowl Parade Jan. 2.

On Tuesday, Dave Engel, owner of Engel's Coach Shop in Joliet helped load two massive replica wagons.

"The goal was to put these wagons back in the 1880 era when they were working wagons and not show wagons," Engel said.

Built to haul borax in California's Death Valley, the 8,000 pound behemoths will instead carry the Rose Bowl Parade committee.

Engel will ride in the back.

Ed Kemmick at Last Best News reported on the finishing of the work back in November.

The Death Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to promote and support Death Valley National Park, commissioned Engel to build the wagons in February.

"They called Dave and asked, 'Do you build wheels?' He said yeah. They said 'Do you build big wheels?' Yeah. 'Do you build really big wheels?' and Dave said, what's up," his wife Diane laughed.

In that time, Engel, alongside Calvin Roorda, worked tirelessly to finish the project in time.

"They are shy of 3,000 hours, 2,800 hours for the pair of them. About 1,400 hours apiece," Engel said.

Residents of Joliet gathered on Main Street Tuesday morning to witness the wagons being rolled out and onto their carriages.

For Engel, the support of the community was overwhelming.

"The interest has been a lot more than I expected," he said. "It's really cool to see all the folks here."

Over and over again, Engel was asked to pose for a photo. Residents understood the architecture masterpiece would not be back in Joliet.

After it travels to California, the wagons -- along with a planned water wagon attachment yet to be built -- will head to Washington D.C. for Inauguration Day.

The last time one of the famous wagons and 20-mule teams took part in an inaugural parade was 100 years ago, in 1917, when Woodrow Wilson was sworn in for his second term in the Oval Office.

"This is the first time anything this big has been built since 1880," Diane Engel said. "They should last forever."

The plan is to keep them preserved, honoring the importance the wagons had on the development of the western United States, in Bishop California.

Related: Joliet coach maker’s latest work to be seen by millions

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