Wheels of the West


Moving to the West was one of the most difficult things that a family could do during the Westward Expansion. The most-used piece of equipment during the Westward Expansion was the covered wagon. The wagons also allowed for many things to be moved at once and for speed, along with allowing many people to travel with each other for protection against the Native Americans. The Native Americans did not have wagons and this gave the settlers a significant advantage. Wagon trains became a staple in American society and allowed the West to be explored by many.

There were many types of covered wagons such as the Conestoga and the prairie schooner. In the Panhandle of Texas, the prairie schooner and the chuckwagon were more common. The reason was that the prairie schooner was lightweight, making it easier to travel the Oregon Trail quickly. The chuckwagon was used as the primary way of cooking on wagon trains and cattle drives. The chuckwagon was designed for this purpose by one of the largest cattle owners in the Panhandle, Charles Goodnight.

Another type of wagon that was used during the westward expansion was the Conestoga wagon, which was used more for moving cargo due to its sturdy structure. It was usually pulled by oxen, due to its heavy weight. Even though the wagons were modern at the time, neither of them had much of a suspension, which forced the driver of the wagon to walk beside the animal of choice to steer them.

Another wagon that was popular in the West was the surrey. This wagon had a cloth cover that hung from the rear of the wagon, which was used to carry heavy items. It was also pulled by horses and was very popular because it could be easily converted into a carriage.

Without the wagon, America would not be the same as it is today. The wagon reinvented travel across the Plains and allowed for the settlement of the West, for without the wagon the West would still be a ruthless and wild place.