Transportation Photos

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Transportation Photos

icon - Transportation PhotosAll photos included here are in the Public Domain in the United States of America unless noted otherwise. Western photographers are noted in the Players (if I have a workable date for them) [LOC = Library of Congress]. Nothing in the way of enhancement has been done to these photographs they are as originally produced.

Gettin’ Around in the Old West

Hooves, Travois and Wheels


The Clippers


Mormon Hand Carts


Hooves, Travois and Wheels Horn and family (Southern Cheyenne); showing home and horse drawn travois.
Photographed by Christian Barthelmess, 1890. U.S. PD


Heston as trail scout sculpture - Transportation PhotosThe horse was the basic mode of transportation in the old west. Here, Charlton Heston, carrying a Henry Rifle, is depicted as a scout on the Santa Fe Trail. This commemorative sculpture by Fred Hoppe was dedicated 08/30/2003; placed on a portion of the old Santa Fe Trail that runs through the National Rifle Association’s Whittington Center at Raton, NM. Photo: © courtesy National Rifle Association.
The Originals Index – Resources & Hazards
– Animals Index Page – MammalsHorse
The Originals Index – Horses



A caravan arrives at Santa Fe c. 1844 - Transportation Photos

A caravan arrives at Santa Fe c 1844
Engraving: U.S. PD c. 1844, unknown


Nebraska Homesteaders c. 1866 - Transportation Photos

Loup Valley, NE 1866: with everything they own in the photo, these pioneers pose on the prairie with the wagon they are living and traveling in while seeking a homestead. This rig is somewhere between a spring wagon and a “Prairie Schooner. Think early RV. Photo: U.S. PD LOC. {001}



Conestoga style wagon - Transportation PhotosA replica of one of the original covered wagons that traveled to Oregon in the 1800s. This one was built in the 1960’s and used as a vehicle in a historical re-enactment; displayed at The High Desert Museum.  Quite a bit larger and heavier than the rig pictured above. This wagon needed mules or oxen. Photo: B.D’s World via Flickr & Wikipedia

Ox drawn on the Oregon Trail - Transportation Photos

Ox drawn wagons on the Oregon Trail – Photo: U.S. PD






Choosing the wagon…

You can see several styles/types of wagons used in the trek west in the above photos. Below are some modern views of these vehicles. The drawing will give some statistics. The difference in gross weight, alone, goes a long way to help in understanding the problems that might arise as one tried to move them overland on rough (very rough) trails.

Emigrant Wagon - Transportation Photos

Emigrant Wagon
U.S. PD? – courtesy Jay Snead

This was likely the most common choice for most of the emigrants. A number of choices were available. Studebaker‘s* were the most common. Basically a heavy-duty, large farm wagon fitted with a canvas top, water barrel, tool box and perhaps other useful items. Cost was a factor. This wagon was less expensive to purchase and repair and less expensive to move. While it could certainly be pulled by horses, mules would have been the better choice. Four mules would have made a good team and be much easier to care for and feed than oxen.
Many had little or no experience with wagons, teams and long distance travel. The trail was a hard teacher. Most people tended to overload whatever conveyance they had, attempting to bring too many items that weighed too much. Only fifty miles out of St. Joseph, MO, there was a large dumping ground.** There were a number of other notable ones further west. After one had traveled across the prairie and dealt with the attendant problems and perhaps learned something… looking up at the Rocky Mountains, from walking alongside a wagon, had to have been daunting.
And walk they did if they didn’t have horse. These things were terrible to ride! As the saying goes, “Rough as a cob”. You body would be unmercifully beaten and pummeled. There was a real danger of being pitched off the seat and injured. Riding inside on rough ground was also dangerous. It wasn’t to sleep in either, it was to carry things. People slept under them or in canvas tents if they had them.  {001}
*Wk. 01, 01/01/1868 – Studebaker
**Wk. (looking for the reference – Doc)

Conestoga Wagon - Transportation Photos

Conestoga Wagon
U.S. PD? – courtesy Jay Snead

This thing was a beast!  They were used by a number travelers, it’s true. But the up front cost was much greater and there was far more effort involved. They were really freight wagons, designed to be pulled by oxen (four, six or more…). The wagon of choice for the freighters on the Santa Fe Trail.* Consider struggling this thing across a river or climbing steep hills and mountains. Think about going down a steep grade…**
see also:
* The Originals Index – Expeditions –  Captain William Becknell
**References – DictionaryMormon brake


Conestoga & Emigrant Wagons drawing - Transportation Photos

Conestoga & Emigrant Wagons drawing U.S. PD? – courtesy Jay Snead


 Painted on an emigrant’s wagon…                                                                                
Pickin’ up bones to keep from starvin’
Pickin’ up chips to keep from freezin’
Pickin’ up courage to keep from leavin’
Way out West in No-Mans land.

see: also:
The Originals Index – TrailsOregon Trail
The Originals Index – Resources & Hazards
– Animals Index Page – Mammalshorse, mule, ox and others…


 The Coaches

As settlements began to grow and the trails between them became established, public transportation became useful and many availed themselves of the services provided. Here are some of the conveyances…

The Last Deadwood Coach - U.S. PD - Grabill LOC - Transportation Photos

The Last Deadwood Coach – U.S. PD – Grabill LOC


This is an Abbot & Downing Celerity (mud) wagon.
Count the people, how much weight is on this coach?
Quite a bit too much for a celerity for anything but a day outing.
This coach is somewhat lighter than a Concord.

see also:
Wk. 28, o7/09/1857 – The Granddaddy of ’em all!

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