Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Conestoga Wagon of the B & O Railroad

This postcard of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's "Conestoga" covered wagon has a long educational description printed on the back:
The "Conestoga Wagon":--1813. From the famous historical collection of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The "Conestoga Wagon" represents a link in the chain of horse-drawn vehicles leading up to the era of the railroad. It is a solid-looking wagon with large back wheels and smaller front ones. Arched picturesquely over the top is a big canvas canopy slanting far forward in front and backward in the rear, making a spacious roomy vehicle. The "Conestoga Wagon" first came into use in the United States for transportation of freight and passengers during the latter part of the eighteenth century in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, at a time when there were only 2,000 miles of miscellaneous post-roads in the whole country.
The average Conestoga wagon was 18 feet long, 11 feet high, and 4 feet in width and could carry up to 12,000 pounds of cargo. Conestoga wagons were freight wagons, not designed for carrying passengers. The Conestoga wagon is a specific type of covered wagon. Most of the wagons used in the westward expansion of the United States were not Conestoga wagons, but lighter farm wagons fitted with canvas covers.

Conestoga wagons had some other distinctive features in addition to the ones mentioned in the postcard description. The floors curved upward to prevent the contents from tipping and shifting. There was not a front seat for the driver or seats for passengers. The driver could ride one of the horses. Travelers walked beside the wagon. The side of the wagon had a brake handle and a small pullout plank seat designed to provide a brief rest from walking.

1 comment:

  1. I guess I haven't thought about this enough. Obviously people didn't sleep in the wagons, because at that size and with that much cargo, there wouldn't have been enough room. So, did they carry tents in the wagons?


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