The Conestoga Wagon

Posted on July 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history.
displayed at the National Museum of American History

displayed at the National Museum of American History

The Conestoga wagon was pretty, painted in a bright Prussian blue with white linen tops and large scarlet wheels. They were huge rigs, capable of hauling up to 6 tons of freight, and they would often travel in trains of up to 30 vehicles. When these huge wagons would travel down the road, there was little room for oncoming traffic, and these wagons did not yield.  These large wagons had no seat for the driver, but rather they often had a special board sticking out on the left side for the driver to stand on. Oncoming traffic would have to veer out to the right to make room for the wagon and its driver.So this is where the American tradition of driving on the right side of the road originated!

During this time, the horses were fitted with harness bells. For the header horses there were small soprano bells and the middle or swing pairs had tenor bells. A bass toned bell was fitted on the right wheelers, but the left wheelers had no bells. If a wagon became stuck, help was available but usually with the payment of one or more bell. The bells became important trophies of skill and success for the teamsters. Thus the expression “to be there with bells on” was born!

The Conestoga wagons were a larger version of what became known as the “prairie schooner” used to transport settlers in the 1800’s. The design of the wagon was reduced between 1820 and 1830, modified for family travel rather than heavy commercial hauling. These wagons were traditionally painted in subdued browns and greens, and thus was born the prairie schooners that made their way west.

from Animal-World Newsletter

equi-works

equi-works