Riding in A Covered Wagon– not all it’s cracked up to be!

Donna Schlachter, Author and Story Teller, visits us this week with her new novel, Calli. Words that paint pictures, pictures that tell stories, and stories that change hearts. Read on for information she learned researching her latest novel and a GIVEAWAY.

I love western movies. The long rides into the sunset. Horses that always do what you ask of them. People who help you out of a tough spot. The bad guy always gets what’s coming to him. And, of course, travel in a covered wagon–comfortable, convenient, and carefree.

What’s that? Wrong!?

But that’s the way movies show them, isn’t it? Rolling along across the flat prairie. Children skipping alongside. Butter churned by the end of the day. Complete dinners prepared over a campfire. Coffee always available.

As any of the hundreds of thousands of westward emigrants could attest—and often did, in their journals, letters home, and books—covered wagons and their journeys weren’t as easy a way to journey as we think.

In researching my recent book, Calli, I discovered the following facts which I found very interesting:

  • Although most movies show Conestoga wagons, they were rarely used in the west because they were too heavy to pull up and down mountains. Instead, the small and lighter wagon, often a simple farm or cargo wagon, was used.
  • Oxen were used even more often than horses. Oxen are stronger, can pull for more hours a day, and are more durable than horses.
  • Clambering into a covered wagon involves getting your body up at least five feet above the ground. Step stools were rare, so unless somebody stood on the bed and hauled you up, your path usually involved the wheel hub, the top rim of the wheel, then gripping the side of the wagon and hoisting your leg over. All in a skirt and several layers of petticoats that reached to your ankles, if you’re a woman. 

Giveaway: I will gift one lucky randomly-drawn winner with an ebook copy of Calli. Leave your answer to the following question AND include your email address cleverly disguised in this format: donna AT livebytheword DOT com  That way the spammers can’t find you, but we can!

Question: What’s the strangest vehicle or method of conveyance you’ve ridden/driven in. For me, the moto-taxis in Lima Peru. 

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. 

Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter! www.DonnaSchlachter.com

9 thoughts on “Riding in A Covered Wagon– not all it’s cracked up to be!

  1. This reminds me of the research Alex Haley did when he wrote “Roots,” revealed at the back of the book (and my favorite part). So many of the women were pregnant when they lumbered along in those wagons.

    Strangest vehicle: a WWII bomber, a B-25 Mitchell, like one my uncle Dale Wilson was lost in. (Very windy inside, and wow, was it loud!

    joynealkidney AT gmail DOT com

    • Hi Joy, thanks for sharing that exciting ride. I think there’s a book in that story! Good luck in the drawing.

  2. While a little out of my standard genres, I love the historical accuracy and views this book appears to provide. Thanks for sharing Ms. Gail.

  3. Sounds like a fabulous read. I love picturing how they must have felt with all their possessions in one wagon.
    Most adventurous vehicle I’ve been in was a small plane flown by my brother in law.

    mckenzie AT cfaith Dot com

    • Hi Maggie, thanks for sharing. I once flew in a 10-seater plane that landed on a frozen harbor in Labrador. That was quite the experience! Good luck in the drawing.

  4. I love westerns, but am sure the era was not near as romantic as the silver screen tries to make it appear! Thank you for these interesting facts, Donna!

    Most adventurous ride for me was in a glider. I hung around our small airport all day long when I was a kid until someone finally offered to take me up. It was amazing – and quiet!

    Gail, thank you for hosting Donna today.

    • Hi Pattie, thanks for sharing that super-scary ride. I don’t like heights, so that wouldn’t be for me! Good luck in the drawing.

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