Originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvnia


Length - 24 to 26 feet

Height - 11 to 12

Weight - approximately 3,000 pounds

Construction - oak or poplar, tightly fit, caulked with pitch to be water tight

Iron tires were two to four inches wide

Front wheels - 3ft 6 " in diam.

Rear wheels - 4 ft 8 inches high

when new, the body was blue, the wheels and underneath read, canvas top was white.

Three teams of draft horses or oxen

Five teams of mules


Prairie 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 . Whereas the latter usually required a six-horse team even on good roads, the prairie schooner was much lighter and rarely needed more than four horses, and sometimes only two, even on virgin prairie trails. Oxen were frequently used instead of horses. The average prairie schooner was an ordinary farm wagon fitted with a top, drawn in at both ends, with only an oval opening to admit air and light to the interior, where women and children usually slept and rode. In crossing the Great Plains groups of prairie schooners customarily traveled together for protection (see wagon train ).

Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2004.

Great Reading and Reference Resources:

Coffee County Historical Society and Museum

Traveling in a Covered Wagon

Museum of Westward Expansion

From the End of the Oregon Trail Organization

Across the Plains in '64 by Prairie Schooner to Oregon , Anna Dell Clinkinbeard.

Page created January 17, 2004 by Mary Thompson Saban.  Last updated 08/08/2012

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