wagon train

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wagon train,

in U.S. history, a group of covered wagons used to convey people and supplies to the West before the coming of the railroad. The wagon replaced the pack, or horse, train in land commerce as soon as proper roads had been built. The first frontier region in which wagoning became highly developed was across the Allegheny barrier in the late 18th cent. There were few routes through the mountains, and in the days of the westward movement they were well-traveled by the migrants' wagons and by the wagon trains of professional wagoners carrying goods between the Ohio settlements and the cities on the coast. Used in this trade was the Conestoga wagonConestoga wagon
, heavy freight-carrying vehicle of distinctive type that originated in the Conestoga region of Pennsylvania c.1725. It was used by farmers to carry heavy loads long distances before there were railroads to convey produce to markets.
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, the most efficient freight carrier of the age. On the prairies of the Middle West and on the Great Plains, wagons could be used without the necessity of making roads, and there the covered wagon, or prairie schoonerprairie schooner,
wagon covered with white canvas, made famous by its almost universal use in the migration across the Western prairies and plains, and so called in allusion to the white-topped schooners of the sea. It was a descendant of the Conestoga wagon.
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, of the migrant predominated. It was in crossing the Great Plains that the typical wagon train was developed. The vast distances through unsettled country and the danger from Native Americans made it necessary to travel in large parties. Such a train was organized with an almost military discipline for defense. A contract, or constitutional paper, was drawn up, setting forth the objects of the migration, the terms of joining, the rules to be followed, and the officers to be elected. All joining signed this paper and then participated in the election of officers. Sometimes both a military captain and a president with civil powers were chosen. More often the offices were combined in one individual. Aides or lieutenants were elected, and a guide was usually hired for the more difficult parts of the route. The order of wagons both on the trail and in camp was strictly regulated. At night the wagons were drawn into a circular corral, and a strict guard was kept to prevent a surprise attack by hostile Native Americans. Freighters who supplied the early army posts and mining camps also usually traveled in parties for the same reason as the migrants. The wagon trains disappeared in the East in the 1840s and 50s, and the Western trails lost importance in the later 19th cent.


See H. P. Walker, The Wagonmasters (1966).

References in periodicals archive ?
Rick Bayne, 62, a descendant of the original migrants, has run his wagon train adventures for 13 years.
Lane Tandy and Shyann Richardson are two immigrant teenagers who are suddenly thrown together after somehow surviving the massacre of their Mormon immigrant wagon train.
Emigrants on the Overland Trail; the wagon trains of 1848.
Covering the same territory, both literally and metaphorically, The Way West documents a journey taken by a wagon train traveling from Missouri across the plains and over the old Oregon trail to end at the Columbia River, the gateway to the promised land of the fertile Willamette Valley.
This left too little time for a complete analysis, but Novak used her work and additional social historical research to attempt to tell the story of the wagon train from the Arkansans' perspective.
Roger and his son are members of the Ohio Wagon Train Club of Holmes County.
Other programmes that first night were Popeye, Highway Patrol, Wagon Train, Murder Bag and The Big Show.
Paranormal events multiply, and the young people are led along the same trail that Jefferson Davis once took with his gold-laden wagon train.
There is a lot of suspense, action, good character development, and a fine description of the conditions on a wagon train and in mining towns in the Rockies--excellent supplementary reading for any study of the American West at the middle school level.
11, 1857, 120 members of a wagon train heading to California were massacred in Mountain Meadows, Utah.
Your 5" 544 Texas Wagon Train Commemorative is a neat and somewhat rare gun with only 7,800 manufactured in 1986 for the Texas Sesquicentennial.
Foster, Fort Zion tells the story of a secret wagon train of handpicked volunteers dispatched by Joseph Smith, President of the Curch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).