11. Organization of the Wagon Was Crucial For Daily Loading and Unloading
The wagon was carefully organized because everything the family had and could take with them had to fit. All of the people and belongings were also arranged in a certain way because they would have to be unloaded every night and reloaded the following morning. The wagon was made to live inside measuring 12 to 14 feet long and would be able to carry as much as five tons. The bottom of the cart would be covered with chests and boxes that stored the dishes, tools, and clothing. In the back of the wagon was the washtub, iron stove, and storage of food. On top of these items were cloth mattresses filled with goose feathers and horsehair, blankets, and pillows.
Other supplies, such as pots and pans, were hung on the outside of the wagon. Because the carts were so full, there would be no room for passengers in the back. Therefore, everyone but pregnant women, elderly, and the sick would walk. This long haul meant that on average each family member would need about nine pairs of shoes for the trip. Then there were the supplies of tools that were needed not only for the journey but also for being able to build a home once the pioneers reached their destination. These tools often consisted of an ax, augers, gimlet, spokes, wagon tongue, heavy ropes, chains, hammer, nails, hoe, plow, shovel, ox shoes, and spade.
Of course, there was more to the preparation than just supplies, wagon, oxen, shoes, and money. There was also the organization of the wagon train. Each wagon train had a leader, who would be in charge of when the wagon train would start and stop. They would also set the pace for the wagon train. There was an organization on when the wagon train would leave the area the pioneers were living in at the time. With all this preparation and the pioneer’s knowledge of danger along the trail, people have often wondered why the pioneers decided to take the trip out west.