Pioneers and Covered Wagons

L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

The most common type of pioneer wagon was the “prairie schooner.” These were emigrant wagons. Prairie Schooners were larger and used for shorter distances, and to haul freight as they could carry heavier loads. Some of the emigrant wagons were modified farm wagons that the pioneers already had while other pioneers had to purchase new wagons. These lightweight, affordable wagons had five or six curved wooden hoops attached to them and were usually covered in a white canvas to keep contents and the occasional passenger dry. They were often pulled by several oxen or mules, with a teamster who walked alongside the oxen to direct them with verbal commands and an occasional whip.