Celebrating 50 Years of Family

by | Jun 7, 2023

By Sheri Clark

We at the Chuckwagon have a very exciting milestone we are hitting this year, 50 Years of ownership by the Austin family! It has been a wild ride! We can’t start our story until recognizing the founding family who started their dream of building and creating the original “Wayne Umpire” in 1910, Port and Dot Pectol. It started as a humble store, small rustic frame structure with a lean-to on the backside where they lived. The store had everything from groceries to lace, washtubs to horseshoes, bullets and even dynamite! They sold locally made cheese from Bicknell and even had their own candy bars made from the Startup Candy Store in Provo, and named the bar “Wayne Wonderland”! Over the years there were several services provided by the Pectols. Some include an auto repair shop, small cafe, gas station, there was also a time they made caskets and used the parlor of their home to use as a viewing and wake-viewing place for the dead! Many Indian artifacts were found in the Torrey area and were on display in a small museum in the upstairs of the store. The ownership changed hands a few times before it was bought by our family. The Covingtons were the first to buy it from the Pectols, followed by Boyd Black, W. B. Englesby, and Lavoy Tolbert.


Our parents, Randy and Claudia, in 1973 were on their way to Lake Powell when they made a wrong turn and ended up in Torrey. They stopped in the Chuckwagon for a cup of coffee and found that the business was up for sale. Both of them felt that this was an opportunity they could not pass up. At the young age of 22 and 23 they started their story.The Chuckwagon had a small cafe, rock shop, and R.V. park. With 7 small motel rooms and an apartment upstairs, where they lived. They kept their business open year-round but in the winter months business was slow and Randy would obtain work elsewhere, even as far as Alaska to keep the business going. In the 1980’s they leased the business out to another family and moved to Arizona. That didn’t work out for the other family and two years later our parents moved back to Torrey.

They decided they would expand and make something bigger and better of the Chuckwagon. They built the lodge, put in the swimming pool, added three cabins, and in 2002 built the deli.

We have seen many changes in Torrey over the years. It doesn’t seem that long ago when all the roads in town were dirt, including Highway 12. Capitol Reef was a new National Park when we moved here and with its growing popularity, we see tourists from all over the world. We have seen positive changes to Torrey. We love when we can utilize local sources to sell in our store. We sell local honey, candy, and books from local authors. Looking in the future, we would hope to keep the small town feel of Torrey that we came here for. James, Sheri and our spouses Mike and Jeri enjoy meeting and seeing everyone enjoy our property.

Come in and see what we are all about. Sit on the bench in the front of the store that has served as a “Meeting of the Minds” place for many years. The bench has heard many stories, some true and some not so true. If only that bench could talk.



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