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State Tries To Boost Tourism With Free Covered Wagon Rides

Oregon is getting its fair share of visitors this summer, but wildfires and smoke have put a dent in an otherwise stellar year.

In response, the state’s tourism agency, Travel Oregon, and the ride-hailing business Lyft are joining forces to offer free covered wagon rides around downtown Portland during the last week of August.

The wagon comes from Wagon Train Adventures out of Pendleton. Brian Cook drives with the help of his two nine-year-old mules, Mary and Jane. 

Travel Oregon responded to a loss in tourism revenue by forming a coalition with Visit California and the Washington Tourism Alliance to combat the perception that the West is on fire.

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in Oregon. It employs about 110,000 people.

Free prairie schooner rides are available all week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., outside the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland.

<p>Covered wagon driver Brian Cook shares his knowledge of mules and the Oregon Trail during the drive.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

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Covered wagon driver Brian Cook shares his knowledge of mules and the Oregon Trail during the drive.

<p>People take a ride in a covered wagon through downtown Portland.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

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People take a ride in a covered wagon through downtown Portland.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.