Describing a chuckwagon is like describing a cowboy. They come in many uniforms and styles, but they have one thing in common. They both have to get the job at hand done. They are married together because of a stock working situation in remote areas with non bearing facilities to sustain room and board. A good cook could make a chuckwagon “home sweet home”. I never saw two chuckwagons the same. But all the good ones could hold a crew in any kind of a working situation. Before chuckwagons were used cowboys carried a pallet or sack tied to their saddle. Charles Goodnight is given credit for the first chuckwagon as we know it. In the book about Charles Goodnight by J.Evetts Haley, he describes Charles making of the first Chuckwagon.
He bought the gear of a government wagon, pulled it over to a wood-worker in Parker-County, and had it entirely rebuilt with the toughest wood available, seasoned bois d’arc. Its axles were of iron instead of the usual wood, and in the place of a tar-bucket he put in a can of tallow to use in greasing. He prepared to take twelve yoke of oxen, six to be used at a time. For the back-end of the wagon he built the first chuck-box he had ever seen, and recalled that ‘it has been altered little to this day’. its hinged lid let down on a swinging leg to arm the cook’s work-table, and inside was probably the first sour-dough jar that ever went up the trail. Since that time, among outfits in the open country, the keg of sour-dough has become a favorite institution, even as the biscuits it has produced have become a fragrant memory. Goodnight learned it use from his efficient mother, who kept a jar brewing at home.
All of this equipment is still very popular today.