Conestoga Wagon


Pennsylvania Germans near the Conestoga River first made Conestoga wagons around 1750 to haul freight. By the 1810s, improved roads to Pittsburgh and Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) stimulated trade between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and settlers near the Ohio River. Wagoners with horse-drawn Conestoga wagons carried supplies and finished goods westward on three- to four-week journeys and returned with flour, whiskey, tobacco, and other products. The Conestoga wagon’s curved shape shifted cargo toward the center and prevented items from sliding on mountain slopes. Railroads replaced Conestoga wagons by the 1850s, but the prairie schooner, a lightweight, flat variant, carried pioneer settlers from Missouri to the West Coast.

Location: Currently not on view (right side board; fragment, right side board; left side board; lazy board)Currently not on view (bows)Currently not on viewCurrently not on view (replica cover)Currently not on view (feed box)

See more items in: Work and Industry: Transportation, Road, Transportation, Road Transportation


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: TR.321453Catalog Number: 321453Accession Number: 243296

Object Name: wagonOther Terms: Road

Measurements: overall: 8 ft x 7 ft x 18 ft; 2.4384 m x 2.1336 m x 5.4864 m


Record Id: nmah_842999

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.