Conestoga wagon

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Conestoga wagon

(kŏn'əstō`gə), 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. Later it was used to carry manufactured goods across the Alleghenies to frontier stores and settlements and to bring back the frontier produce. The transportation of goods by wagon trainwagon 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.
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 developed into a major business employing thousands of wagons before the railroads crossed the mountains c.1850. The larger Conestoga wagons, usually drawn by six horses, carried loads up to eight tons. The bottom of the wagon box was curved, rising at both ends, so that in going up and down hills the goods would shift less easily and the tailgate would be subjected to less strain. The same curve was carried out in the white hood, at first made of hempen homespun and later of canvas, which rose up and out at each end, covering the front and rear openings with a poke bonnet effect to keep out sun, rain, and dust. The wagons were striking and graceful vehicles as they moved over the hills and were often called "ships of inland commerce." The drivers usually rode the left wheel horse and are credited with originating the American custom of turning out to the right. The 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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 was a modification of the Conestoga wagon.

Bibliography

See study by G. Shumway and H. C. Frey (3d ed. 1968).

Conestoga wagon

famed covered wagon taking pioneers to West before railroads. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 623]
See: Journey

Conestoga wagon

horse-drawn freight wagon; originated in the Conestoga Creek region in Pennsylvania. [Am. Hist.: EB, III: 72]
References in periodicals archive ?
From the days of the Conestoga Wagons crossing the Commonwealth loaded with agricultural and manufactured goods for the "west" to our current importance as a key corridor for truck and auto transportation--a well-maintained network of roads has been important to us.
Conestoga Wagon The so called prairie schooners which carried our early settlers to the new lands in the West were known as Conestoga Wagons bearing the name of the Conestoga River Valley in Pennsylvania where they were constructed.
Consequently, the first mile or so of Lorane Highway (yes, highway) is today full of deep potholes, loose gravel and a mixture of road surfaces (broken asphalt, gravel, the good earth) suitable only for Conestoga wagons.
Unknowingly, though, their wheels are literally passing over the ruts of Conestoga wagons, the streets of defunct and forgotten towns, hunters' trails, and the unmarked graves of countless Native Americans and pioneers.
It's a snapshot of California history, from the giant redwoods to the Golden Gate Bridge, from the missions to the wine country, from the fictional jumping frog of Calaveras County to the Conestoga wagons that brought many settlers here in the mid-1840s.
There were four Conestoga wagons in their party, as well as one shiny black buggy pulled by four black matching ponies.
While many are familiar with the religious persecution that drove the Mormons from both Missouri and Illinois to settle in Utah in the largest exodus of religious refugees in the nation's history, most people picture the pioneers traveling in traditional Conestoga wagons, said church spokeswoman Kim Farah.
Hemp canvas covered the Conestoga wagons of Oregon's pioneers.