The "cook car" is a near relative of the famous "chuck wagon" of the plains cattle drive and served a similar function. These kitchens on wheels were used to feed the working crews in the fields during planting and harvest. It proved difficult to move large work crews across the distance of the farm or ranch to the main house during meal times and every hour of work lost in such an effort was costly. In some cases, several adjacent farms worked together to complete the harvest and the feeding of combined work crews proved even more complex. The arrival of the cook car solved the dilemma.
The cook car on display at the Pioneer Village Historical Museum could rotate ten men at a time through its assembly line. Some models used cast iron stoves and others employed the boxed stove, which kept already prepared food warm with a heated stone. The car also gave the men an opportunity to sit and rest from the weary and laborious work of early agriculture.
While the cook car's life span on the plains is relatively short -- about 50 years -- it played a vital role in the development of American agriculture on the plains.