Dutch Wagons

Military Transport in the 1700s

The Dutch Wagon

Dutch Farming by Roderic H. Blackburn and others, in the Dutch Barn Preservation Society newsletter, spring 1992
(Scroll down to The Dutch Wagon)

...With one of these wagons, we commonly carry thirty bushels of wheat and at 60 pounds to the bushel this makes a weight of 1800 pounds [about 800kg], with which we can go 40 miles [about 60km] a day with two horses...
what a Dutch wagon could carry...

The Conestoga Wagon

For an excellent discussion of wagons, and the long-distance transportation of heavy freight in the 1700s and early 1800s, see The Conestoga Wagon by Lee Myles, in The Freeholder magazine, summer 1997
Oyster Bay Historical Society

...the word 'wagon' being of Dutch origin. Originally the Dutch spelt it "waghen" as the English often did in the 1500s... The English had large military freight wagons.  A map of the Battle of Naseby, 1645, shows a number of them...

Pennsylvania Dutch Culture

Pennsylvania Dutch History and Culture (Author not known)

...What mighty engines of transportation these wooden wagons were, may be seen in the fact that they carried loads of six or eight tons... The Conestoga wagons had to carry their six or eight tons over untracked wilds and prairie, over corduroy forest trails and through creeks and rivers – in lands infested with hostile Indians compelling often (as all moviegoers know) the use of the wagon for a fort.  Thousands of pioneer families made these great wagons their homes on five- month journeys across the entire continent, over the famous trails.  No wonder these great Pennsylvania Dutch wagons were called American "inland ships".

At the height of America's trek westward, sometimes 2,500 or 3,000 of these covered wagons would pass a given western point in a single day.  In one year 42,000 people crossed the plains in these wagons.  The rumbling noise of such caravans was an awe- inspiring sound, as well as a heart-stirring sight.  They constituted America's overland transportation until the 1850s (and even into the early 1900s where railways did not go), and the sturdy Dutch workmanship on them saved many a family from disaster.  With the coming of railways they naturally passed out of existence...

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