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Conestoga Wagon Video


Conestoga wagon on modern road - 1937 video "Conquering Roads" by GMC
(see SOURCE below) - public domain media presented by Internet Archives

The beginning of this 1937 video on "conquering roads" shows a Conestoga wagon being pulled by two horses (the rest of the video is a historical record of the evolution of roads in the first half of the 20th century).

The Conestoga Wagon (covered wagon)

Long before tractor trailers or a railroad system (especially during the period from about 1750 to 1855), Conestoga wagons were the primary vehicles for hauling freight (such as flour and other farm products) from the country to the cities, returning with supplies and commodities for the farmers and their families.

The name "Conestoga" has been attributed to an early Indian group, to a river, to a valley, to a trail and road, to a manor, and to a now-extinct breed of horses. The one common thread is that all of these are affiliated with Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was on the road connecting Lancaster to Philadelphia that the massive four-wheeled wagons, generally drawn by four to six Conestoga horses, first appeared.

About 1770, Lancaster boasted 5 wheelwrights, 13 blacksmiths, 7 turners, and 20 woodworkers. Except for a saw and a turning lathe, Conestoga wagons were crafted with hand tools. The bed was usually made out of white oak for the frame and poplar for the boards, sloping upward from the middle. Flooring and side boards were 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch thick (if the wagon was to be used for carrying ore, the boards would be cut even thicker). Many parts of the wagon bed were braced with iron, and handmade rivets secured the boards to the frame.

There was little uniformity in the dimensions, but generally a Conestoga wagon bed measured 16 feet in length, 4 feet in width, and 4 feet in depth. A dip toward the center took the weight of the load off the end gates in case the cargo shifted as the wagon made its way up and down hilly country. The end gates were held in position by a chain and staple that allowed the gate to be dropped for loading and unloading. The western chuck wagon (see Texas state vehicle)
was based on Conestoga Wagon design:

Model of a western chuck wagon- click to see all state cultural symbols
The design of the "Chuck wagon" (used on western cattle drives)
was based on the Conestoga wagon. Photo of model © The Franklin Mint
(used by permission). See All State Cultural Symbols.
Source:
The Conestoga Wagon: PHMC
Video is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Handy (Jam) Organization
Sponsor: Chevrolet Division, General Motors Corporation
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
Links:
Western Chuck Wagon
All State Cultural Symbols

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air force - tie
footwear - music  
artist - bird
bread - cooking  
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dish - snack
fabric - tartan
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flag - pledge
flower - plant
gem - stone
hall of fame
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sport - vehicle
metal - molecule
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pastry 1 2 - nut
pepper 1-2 - fruit
plays - railroad
reptile - shell
seal -quarter - motto
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shrub 1-2
song 1-2
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