Conestoga wagon: Wikis


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Conestoga wagon on Oregon Trail reenactment in 1961
US ArmyTransport Wagon

The Conestoga wagon is a heavy, broad-wheeled covered freight carrier used extensively during the late 1700s and 1800s in the United States and sometimes in Canada. It was large enough to transport loads up to 8 short tons (7 metric tons), and was drawn by 4 to 6 Conestoga horses.



The first Conestoga wagons originated in Pennsylvania around 1750 and are thought to have been introduced by Mennonite German settlers. The name came from the Conestoga Valley near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[1] In colonial times the Conestoga wagon was popular for migration southward through the Great Appalachian Valley along the Great Wagon Road. After the American Revolution it was used to open up commerce to Pittsburgh and Ohio. In 1820 rates charged were roughly one dollar per 100 pounds per 100 miles, with speeds about 15 miles (25 km) per day. The Conestoga, often in long wagon trains, was the primary overland cargo vehicle over the Appalachians until the development of the railroad. The wagon was pulled by six to eight horses or a dozen oxen.[citation needed] The wagon was shaped like a boat because it kept the goods from falling out. A toolbox was attached to the side in case of repairs. The wagon bows was a cloth that protected passengers from heat, rain, and snow. The wheels helped the wagon from getting stuck in the mud.This wagon was also used for traveling westward because of "Manifest Destiny"

The Conestoga wagon was cleverly built. Its floor curved upward to prevent the contents from tipping and shifting. The average conestoga wagon was 21 feet long, 11 feet high, and 4 feet in width. It could carry up to 2,000 pounds of cargo. The cracks in the body of the wagon were stuffed with tar to protect them from leaks while crossing rivers. Also for protection against bad weather, stretched across the wagon was a tough, white canvas cover. The frame and suspension were made of wood, while the wheels were often iron plated for greater durability. Water barrels built on the side of the wagon were used to hold water and toolboxes held tools needed for repair on the wagon. The Conestoga wagon was used for many types of travel including passage to California during the Gold Rush.

The term "Conestoga wagon" refers specifically to this type of vehicle; it is not a generic term for "covered wagon." The wagons used in the westward expansion of the United States were, for the most part, ordinary farm wagons fitted with canvas covers.[2]

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Perhaps introduced by settlers from the Conestoga Valley of Pennsylvania in about 1725.


Conestoga wagon

Conestoga wagons

Conestoga wagon (plural Conestoga wagons)

  1. A large cart with a canvas cover drawn by mules, oxen or horses and used extensively during the Westward Expansion of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.
    • 1860, Author, Annals of Luzerne County: A Record of Interesting Events, Traditions, and Anecdotes, J.B. Lippincott & Co., page 344,
      During the summer and fall the covered broad-wheeled Conestoga wagons, moved by four or six splendid draught-horses, were constantly employed in transporting the productions of the county to market.

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