Most emigrants offered light spanned wagons through sloping sides. The canvas peak was waterproofed through linseed oil and also stretched end a frame of hoop-shaped slats. Although mainly made that wood, stole was provided to reinforce the wagon at an essential points. However, stole was supplied sparingly in construction due to the fact that it to be heavy and would slow down and also exhaust the pets pulling the wagon.

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The wagons to be packed v food supplies, cooking equipment, water kegs, and also other things necessary for a long journey. These wagons could carry loads of up to 2,500 pounds, but the recommended maximum to be 1,600 pounds. There was little room in the wagon because that people and so only small children or an elderly citizens speak in the wagon. The rest of the party walked alongside the slow-moving moving auto or talk on the back of a horse.

The 4 wheels that the wagon to be made of wood (strengthened v iron). The front wheels were usually smaller than those in ~ the back. The wagon train would take trip at about two mile an hour. This enabled the emigrants to median ten mile a day. With an excellent weather the 2,000 mile trip from Missouri come California and also Oregon would take about five months. However, heavy rains would rise this by several weeks.

These wagons rarely had actually springs. This was no a significant problem because that the passengers as the wagon travelled an extremely slowly. Nor did the wagons have actually brakes and also this led to serious problems when travel downhill. One solution was to usage chains come lock at the very least one wheel. An additional strategy was to reduced down a tree and also haul the behind to supply drag.

The emigrants used horses, oxen and also mules to pull your wagons. The many popular pet with emigrants to be the ox. It to be cheaper, stronger and easier to work than equines or mules. Castle were additionally less most likely to be steal by native Americans ~ above the journey and would be much more useful together a farm animal when you got to your destination. Oxen were able come exist on thin vegetation and were much less likely come stray native camp. The main argument versus oxen was that they could come to be reckless as soon as hot and thirsty and also were known to reason stampedes in a rush to with water.

Between 1840 and 1860 more than fifty percent of the animals used to pull the wagons to be oxen. More than likely the major reason for this was that an ox expense $25 in the 1840s vice versa, mules to be $75. Throughout the at an early stage stages of this migration, mules were the 2nd most popular animal with the emigrants. Later, steeds replaced mules as the 2nd choice because that pulling wagons.

When the party stopped for any type of length the time the wagons to be arranged, finish to end, in a circular or square compound. This served both together a corral for the animals and also as protection against a possible attack from aboriginal Americans.

Wagons top top the plains.
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Primary Sources

(1) Heinrich Lienhard, indigenous St. Louis to Sutter"s Fort, 1846 (1900)

When i arrived in St. Louis, us went to occupational to obtain the necessary equipment together. Most necessary of all, we had actually to have actually a strong wagon and at least two groups of oxen. Us bought the wagon there is no framework and also covering for fifty dollars. It was a great wagon i beg your pardon stood the expedition well. Ripstein had actually bought two teams of oxen on the Illinois next of the flow for twenty-five dollars each, but one team was also heavy and too old because that such a lengthy and challenging journey. Therefore, top top the advice that everybody, us exchanged the in freedom for a much younger and also much cheaper team. To combine the wagon tongue, we had actually an steel rod attached follow me its whole length, and, thanks to this arrangement, the tongue did great service. Our wagon was, that course, outfitted v a framework and a spanning of oil canvas. There were five of us in all, the whom ns was the youngest, that were walk to take the trip together in the very same wagon.

(2) Buffalo bill Cody, The Autobiography of Buffalo bill (1920)

The wagons offered in those work by Russell, Majors & Waddell were recognized as the "J. Murphy wagons," made at St. Luigi specially because that the plains business. They to be very huge and were strongly built, being qualified of carrying 7 thousand pounds the freight each. The wagon-boxes were very commodious - being as huge as the rooms of an ordinary home - and also were spanned with two hefty canvas sheets to protect the merchandise native the rain. These wagons were usually sent the end from Leavenworth, each loaded with six thousand pounds the freight, and also each drawn by several yokes of cow in fee of one driver.

(3) Joaquin Miller and his family members joined a wagon train come Oregon in the 1860s. He wrote about it in his autobiography, Overland in a spanned Wagon (1930)

We found St. Joseph after virtually two months" stable tramp and solid tread of the ethical old oxen, a sea that tents. For miles and also miles increase the Missouri and down to be to be checked out the white tents, white extended wagons and also busy human being passing and also surging to and fro. It was now the center of May. The weather to be warm and also we could sleep in the tents rather of the extended wagons. So we rested right here for numerous days when papa to buy food and also other things that us needed.

We had actually two huge heavily laden wagons, through eight yoke of oxen to each, a carriage and two equines for mother and baby sister, and a single horse because that the 3 boys to ride. This was particularly convenient, especially at the cross of the swollen streams, when all three can climb on together and also get lots of fun and also often times a little wetting; for us all had actually learned to swim in the dear old Tippecanoe, and also we did not mind a bit if we all rolling off with each other in the middle of the stream.

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