Wagon Land Adventure : Collections
Object ID:
CM 2011-016
Object Name:
Conestoga Wagon
These earliest of American wagons were named for Pennsylvania's Conestoga Valley, where they were built. The valley's craftsman adapted the graceful and boat like lines that had first appeared in European vehicles of the 16th and 17th centuries. This design was practical as well as aesthetic; the curved body tended to keep the load at the center of the wagon rather than shifting to the ends, and many feel the shaped body made then easier to move when fording streams. There are side boards to level out the center of the wagon to keep the freight from falling out. This wagon has wooden axles and linchpins to hold the wheels on. This wagon has the driver's board, feed trough, Conestoga saddle, Conestoga jack and a wooden grease bucket for lubricating the wheels. The wagon was used on the long migration to the West. These wagons were used between the 1750s and 1840s, and could haul ten tons of freight; the six horse team and wagon stretched to sixty feet. The drivers rode on the Conestoga saddle on the near rear wheel horse, or walked alongside.
These outfits with a load capacity of up to ten tons each were usually operated by two men; the driver, riding the wheel horse and controlling the teams with a "jerk line" to the lead horse, and the swamper, who clambered back and forth from wagon to wagon setting breaks. The extra double trees were used when the wagon became stuck, and an extra team could be added to extract the rig.
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