Big Dreams… Profiling An 1860’s Western Freighter

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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Bythe thousands, they were once commonplace on the American frontier.  Largewestern freight wagons did more than just carry their weight, they built andsustained some of the most demanding and harsh regions of the U.S. Individually and collectively, they were as big as the dreams theycarried.  They were dreams of personal and corporate success; firmlycommitted to the task at hand; dreams built by hard work and tenacity anddriven by a desire to excel.  It’s easy to look back from the comfort ofour modern conveniences and minimize the everyday challenges associated withoperating these big rigs.  But, the reality is these men, beasts andmachines ruled the road. 
Toillustrate that point, let’s consider just a few of the dozens of questions wecould ask.  Things like… How do you negotiate sharp turns on steep, narrowmountainous terrain when the full length of your train – includinghorses/mules/oxen and wagons – can easily stretch 100 - 200 feet inlength?  How do you maintain control while descending long grades withfull loads?  Finally, when the wheel weighs several hundred pounds morethan you do, how do you manage any repairs on the trail that might require itto be removed?  Clearly, there was a tremendous amount of strength, skill,finesse, wisdom and experience necessary to command an early freightingoperation. 

Large and in-charge, these no-nonsense designs were especially rugged and builtfor strength.  (Click here to see more photos, specifications and information about this unique freighter on our Wheels That Won The West® website.

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