The chuckwagon (a cowboy's portable kitchen wagon used on the cattle trails) was invented by Charles Goodnight in 1866. Goodnight, a former Texas Ranger, owned the first cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle, called the JA Ranch, located in the Palo Duro Canyon. Goodnight helped create one of the major cattle trails, the Goodnight-Loving Trail, which was a cattle drive route from Texas that led into eastern New Mexico and Colorado.
Chuckwagon food was comprised of black-eyed peas, beans, corn and cabbage. Of course, there was lots of beef and bison steaks and stews spiced with chiles, garlic, and onion or the occasional catfish or shrimp caught from the rivers, lakes or coastal waters. Sourdough breads (sourdough bullets), quick biscuits, skillet corn bread and cowboy coffee were served with the meals.
The chuckwagon was drawn by oxen or mules. The wagon usually carried food, eating utensils, a water barrel, as well as tools and bed rolls, all tucked away in drawers and shelves and covered by a canvas covering. A hinged counter that folded out was used for choping and preparing the food.
Charles Goodnight - Biography
A History of the Chuckwagon