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Three Delightful Wagons Straight Out of a Fairyland--Now on Whidbey Island!

Jack Penland Whidbey Camano Island Tourism | 07/18/2019 | Accommodations, Blog, Cabins, Camping & Glamping, Whidbey Scenic Isle Way

A bit of European history has found its way onto Whidbey Island.  And, if the woman responsible for bringing them here has her way, you’ll soon be able to see them.  But first, Carol Kildow has the job of restoring them to their original splendor.

Two belonged to the nomadic Romani people of England, while the third was commissioned by the Church of England. She discovered them in Wales and lived in one for two years as a student.

“I fell in love with the lifestyle. I fell in love with the experience,” she explains.

She says sleeping in the wagons was, “so much a part of nature.”  She could hear the sounds of the forest just outside the wagon.

After moving to Whidbey Island, she wanted to share her experience.  So, in 2016 she bought three of the wagons and had them shipped via a commercial car carrying ship from England, through the Panama Canal, to Washington State.  Doing so, she says, “Took pretty much all my savings.”

While American history is full of wagons such as the Conestoga, the “prairie schooner” that helped America expand westward, there are very few of these European wagons in the U.S.

She notes how the pieces of wood on one wagon are glued together, something that the Romani didn’t do. Her challenge will be to separate the pieces and bind them together in a more authentic way possible.

Another issue as an example, is the kind of paint she’ll have to use. The most authentic type of paint is not available in the U.S. and is restricted to only a few uses in the United Kingdom. She asked around and a paint suggested by Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center might do the job.

I ask if she’s doing all the work herself. She answered “Yeah, so far” with a laugh adding, “Its a sharp learning curve for me.”

If she invites you onto her property, be prepared to be distracted by her house. “Almost everything is recycled,” she says of the home, originally built about 1795. That would make it the oldest house on the island… if it had been built here.

Instead, it was a homestead from Vermont that she saved from demolition and had it reassembled on the south end of the island. Her own touches, from old musical instruments and even a merry-go-round horse, decorate the interior. While the basic structure of the house is mostly unchanged, she added her own touches, noting that the windows high in one wall were from Seattle’s Sullivan Steakhouse, and the rocks for the fireplace were not from the original homestead, either.

But, back to the wagons. Her long term goal is to find a way to turn the wagons into an overnight experience for the general public. However, for now, she scrapes, sands, and repeats. “Its like seeing history again,” Kildow says, “And bringing it back to life.”

For more information and to stay up to date on progress visit or follow them on Facebook at @HideawayAtHeritageHill.

The Showman wagon (often went to circuses or into towns for Romanies to sell their wares). This is the one I lived in for 2 years while studying the restoration process in Wales. It's named The Dolphin because of the large wooden 'dolphin like' carvings on the front landing.
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