Riding to the desert
on a horse with no name
Oliver McCloskey created quite a stir Monday and Tuesday when he rode his haflinger and quarter horse paint mare down Marion’s Main St. and stopped overnight in Central Park.
A mountain man who looks the part wearing handmade buckskin clothes and carrying a black powder rifle, he was traveling from Fort Scott to Santa Fe, New Mexico, roughly along the route of the 200-year-old Santa Fe Trail.
His pony, which he bought in Fort Scott, has no name, McCloskey said.
Born in Flagstaff, Arizona, and now a resident of Cedar City, Utah, McCloskey is a man born after the time he should have been.
“Since I was a little kid, I’ve been into history,” he said. “I do historical trails of the mountain men explorers of the fur trade era.”
He left high school during his freshman year to be a mountain man. He tans hides to make his clothing. He made his own saddle, and dresses in gear of the first people to travel the Santa Fe Trail.
The hides he used were primarily antelope, deer, and elk, although he also has used cowhide.
“I’ve always known this what I wanted to be — a mountain man,” he said.
He started riding famous American trails in his late teens, taking rides of 30 to 35 miles.
“I’ve always liked riding the historical trails,” McCloskey said. “I like the challenge. I like to do things that are challenging and physically enduring. I just seek the experience.”
His best guess when he might reach Santa Fe on his nameless horse is six to eight weeks. He averages 20 miles a day.
He spent Sunday night at Strong City, where a resident offered a place to stay for the night. People often are helpful along his trip, McCloskey said.