Cabovers Rock

I’m a Trucker Virgin

1976 White Freightliner

1976 White Freightliner in my shop

My first contact with heavy duty trucks was on our ranch in Wyoming. We had a few hundred head of cows and calves, and fed about a thousand yearling steers. While I went about 20 miles to high school in LaGrange Wyoming, population of maybe 200, class size of 6, the nearest “big” town with a cattle auction was Torrington Wyoming. It was 40 miles away, half of that over gravel roads.

Torrington had the largest auction of anywhere close, except Denver and it was 150 miles plus one light year away, over narrow 2 lane roads of course.

So by default, when fall came and it was time to sell the steers, Torrington was the place. Then it had one sale barn, Today, it has two and during the fall run, both run wide open, often with multiple sales each week. A lot of cattle go thru Torrington, many more today than then.

Sawyer Stockliners

In Torrington was a livestock hauler, Sawyer Stockliners. He had the first diesel trucks, first 40′ aluminum pot belly livestock trailers (double decks), first two-way radios in his trucks, etc. The majority of his trucks were brand new White Freightliners.

Carl Sawyer and my dad, Bill Poage, were long time friends. They grew up together and were both avid rodeo steer and team ropers.

To punctuate that fact, both had private steer roping arenas. On our ranch the arena was about 100 yards away from the house. At Carl’s truck yard, the trucks were in front, the arena in the back.  In the picture at the right, the arena was right in back of the leftmost truck.  I thought it was pretty cool that he had a real phone right beside the chutes. We had one phone on the ranch and it was a crank style on a community line. We spent many days roping in that arena, and I always managed to sneak away and go climb around in those monstrous trucks. I was 6 or 7 years old.

Sawyer trucks in the yard

Sawyer trucks in the yard

Shipping Day

Each shipping day was memorable. Each fall there were several.  You didn’t want to sell too many at once in case the price wasn’t so good, and you didn’t want to bring in more than the buyers were prepared to buy.

We’d get up long before dawn, get the horses in, feed them, then saddle up and gather the first 200 or 300 head of steers we came to.  Ours was a working ranch and we spent many days on horseback. We’d have them in the corral and counted long before sunup.  Most times it was about freezing outside, so it was no joyride.

Then my dad would sort them into separate pens based on size, so that each pen held steers of similar size.  It makes them show and sell better.  Sort through and find any that might be sick to be held back and doctored.  Make sure they had lots of water.  We were frozen.  The sun still wasn’t up.  Then we’d go in for breakfast.

Here they Come

About dawn a whole covey of Sawyer Stockliners started showing up. I can still remember sitting at the breakfast table and those glistening cabover Whites with shiny trailers started coming around the bend about a half mile in front of the house. Those Cummins diesels puffing a little black smoke, going through the gears, one right after another, then pulling up in our yard in order, the first one backing up to the loading chute. I don’t remember how many there were, but it takes quite a few trucks to haul 300 head of thousand pound steers.

My first ride in one was on one of those shipping days. I rode to the sale barn with one of the drivers, Phill Fraser, who quickly became the lead driver for Sawyer. While I could drive every vehicle on the ranch including our D-6 Caterpillar, these trucks with 10 gears and Cummins engines were a trip. I was fascinated. and hooked.  Later, trucks like these would be partially responsible for putting me through college.

So this was the start.  More about that later, But first why this website.

I bought a non running 1976 White Freightliner in Louisiana.  A really good story there too and I made a very good friend in the deal.  The truck is always a work in progress. This website will chronicle some of my projects, maybe ask a few questions, show some pictures, offer some suggestions, and whatever else tickles my fancy. I don’t yet have a “website strategy”, but hey, I’m doing what I want so I reserve the right to do it how I please.

There is no commercial content here.  Nothing is for sale. I receive no commission or consideration. If I mention any product, good or bad, it is only a reflection of my perspective and experience. The mention of any product does not in any way reflect on any other.

I hope you enjoy.

Jim Poage



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