The covered wagons the pioneers traveled in were called Conestogas, named after that region in Pennsylvania were they were first built. Their large broad wheels allowed them to travel over the ruts and through the mud of prairie roads. The contents of the wagon were protected from the elements by a canvas cover.
By the time of the wagon trains to Oregon, California, and Utah, the Conestoga had evolved into the prairie schooner, which bore resemblance to a sailing ship. This is the form generally known as the covered wagon. With lower sides and a flat floor, it was simpler and so cheaper to make than the original.
During the gold rush, over 12,000 of these wagons crossed the Missouri River.
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