Tickets Please!    You’ve just bought some cheap new farmland.  How are you going to get to your new


1) Field Trip:  Ride on one of the 19th century means of transportation (canoes, steam-train, horse, carriage) if
possible.  If this is not possible, just go for a long walk, and pretend you are walking into the wilderness. How far do
you think you could go in a day?

2) Chart.  You might want to use a large piece of paper to make a comparison chart of the different means of

3) Hands-on/ Multi-Sensory one student could role-play or act out the the dangers of travel.  Another child could
be dressed up as a bandit; you could play the recording of a cougar or bobcat for dangers from animals. A fan
and water-pistol with recording of thunder could simulate bad weather.

4) While driving, compare how it feels to ride at 3 mph to how it feels to ride at 60 mph (or whatever speed is
normal in your area.)


Due to the specialized nature of some of the
advanced vocabulary in this section, I have already defined
some of the words.

Conestoga Wagon

There are more carriage-related terms below.


packet- a steamboat with a regular schedule

pilot- the "driver" of a steamboat

draft (draught)- Both of these words are pronounced "draft". A draft animal is an animal that pulls a cart, carriage
or other load.  This word can also mean the amount of water a boat displaces.

snag- an underwater obstruction, such as a log, that might endanger a steamboat

whip- a long leather pole with a lash attached, for correcting and giving signals to the horse. ALSO a driver of a
light carriage.

traces- long leather or leather and chain straps that connect a horse or mule's harness to the wagon or cart
These are labeled r on the illustration above.

collar- part of a horse's (or mule's) harness. An oval-shaped pad of leather or heavy fabric that goes around the
animal's neck and rests on the shoulders, providing the point from which the animal pulls. (l)

hames- curved metal or wood-and-metal bars that encircle the collar and to which the harness is attached.
(around the collar)

breast-collar- a thick strip of leather that goes around the front of a horse's chest and is used on light carriages
instead of a collar.

shafts- the 2 wooden or metal poles that project from the front of a carriage or cart and go on each side of the
single draft animal.

pole- the central pole that projects from the front of a carriage or cart and goes between a team of draft animals.

yoke- the wooden harness that encircles the neck or horns of an ox.

single-tree-  a rotating metal or wooden bar on the wagon or cart  to which the traces attach.

double-tree- a rotating metal or wooden bar with singletrees on each end.


In the 19th century, you would not have been able to get in a car or truck and drive; there were not even trains in
many areas. Bicycles were not common until the 1880s. Certainly there were no airplanes.

How could you travel inland in the mid-19th century?  We're going to look at many different ways to travel and talk
about the pros (good points) and cons (bad points).  


1)  Walk:

Walking is slow.  Humans walk only about 3 mph. (Wikipedia)
Danger from hostile people and robbers and from wild animals.
No shelter while traveling.  Walking is uncomfortable and even dangerous if it’s cold or rainy.
You can’t carry much luggage or goods.

Walking is cheap. No extra food for animals or equipment is needed, other than hopefully a comfortable pair of

2)  Ride a Horse    
Riding is faster than walking.
You use less energy and get to your destination more quickly.
You could out-run a predator.
Your horse or mule could carry more goods.
Horses & mules can spook and run away. If the horse runs away,
you may be injured.
Mules and donkeys are notoriously stubborn. They may decide
they don't want to work.
You are still exposed to the weather.
You have to feed the horse, and also purchase some
(saddle and bridle).  

3) Pack with a Horse
You might choose to walk while your horse carries a full
This is slow, but the horse can carry a lot of goods.

(You may study more about horses, mules and horseback riding in the science portion of this section, OR study it
in a later section.)

4) Ride in a wagon, carriage or buggy
Riding in a carriage pulled by a horse or mule may be faster than walking, as long as the road is good.  
You use less energy.
You can take a LOT of goods to market.
If your carriage has a cover, you have some protection from rain and snow.
There is still some danger from predators and bandits, but your horse might be able to out-run them.

Not all roads are good enough for a wagon or carriage. You may get stuck.
Horses & mules can spook and run away, breaking the harness.  Wagon wheels and axles can break. In any case,
you can be injured.
Mules and donkeys can be stubborn.
Oxen are VERY slow.
Wagons, harness and draft animals cost money; not everyone can afford them.

5) Travel on a Train

Very fast by 19th century standards.
You can carry as much luggage as you want or can pay for.
You are sheltered from the elements, although sometimes travelers have problems from the soot.

Trains don’t go to every town. You may still have to hire a wagon or horse or walk the rest of the way.
Expensive, relatively speaking.
You are in danger from train wrecks and the occasional robbery.

Small railroads were used even in the 18th century to transport goods.  Most railroads were in the Northeastern
part of the United States. This had an effect during the Civil War; it allowed the North to transport goods and
soldiers more efficiently. The South had a few railroads, but some of these had tracks of a different width, or

6) Bicycle       
The bicycle was a late-19th century means of travel, but it became very popular.

Bicycles were relatively expensive to purchase, but they required no food or fuel other than that needed by the
They might break down but they did not get sick.
Bicycles were good on hard-surfaced roads, but were not as good on rough terrain.


Streams and rivers were the first highways. It was much easier to travel over land in some cases than to try to
forge a path through the brush.

6)  Travel in a canoe, piroque (pee'-row)  or canoe.

Canoes are relatively inexpensive to buy or you can build certain types by yourself.
They don't require extra food or fuel.

You can travel quickly downstream, but it's much slower going upstream.
A canoe can be very dangerous in rapids.
There is also  possibly danger from alligators in some areas.
Some canoes are small, and you could not carry much luggage.
No protection from the weather.
Obviously, you would have to walk to any in-land destination.

6)  Raft, Flatboat, or Emigrant Ark

Like the canoe, it's easy going downstream, but more difficult going upstream.
You can  carry lots of luggage AND even your animals on a large flatboat.
You may have a tent or even a little house on your boat to protect you from the elements.
There is danger from whirlpools, rapids and floating logs.
after building the raft, you have no other major expenses, and you can use the lumber
from the raft when you arrive at your destination.

7) Steamboat.
Although other men worked on the same idea,  Robert Fulton
is given credit for inventing the first commercial steamboat, the Clarmont, in 1807.
He also invented a type of submarine.

Like trains, steamboats are fast, relatively speaking.
There’s no work involved if you’re paying for a ticket.
You can carry lots of luggage or merchandise.
You’re sheltered. The travel is even luxurious on the larger boats.

There is danger from steamboat boiler exploding, boat hitting a snag and sinking. Steamboats were
quite dangerous. Many of them carried full loads of cotton. That, with the wooden trim and the fire-
heated boiler, made steamboats "floating tinderboxes."


There are horses from all over the world.   Print out a world map ( and fill in the following

American Quarter Horse & Morgan horse-  United States
Falabella- Brazil
Canadian Cutting Horse - Canada
Suffolk Punch- England
Clydesdale- Scotland
Irish Draft- Ireland
Shetland Pony- Shetland Islands
Welsh Pony- Wales
Percheron- France
Andalusian - Spain (Andalusia)
Paso Fino- Columbia & Puerto Rico
Peruvian Paso- Peru
Egyptian Arabian
Orlov Trotter- Russia
Lippizaner- Austria
An 1890s family out for a drive. From Moseman's Illustrated Catalog. The driver of a carriage
is sometimes called a
A goat in harness ready to pull a cart.
“Riding Shank’s Mare”- was a humorous term for walking. Sometimes a person may say that he
“went by Shank’s Mare” or “rode Shank’s Mare.” A mare is a  female horse.
Below: A wagon-train.
(Left) The first "bicycles" were powered by the human
walking rather than by being pedaled.  (Below) An early
high-wheeled bicycle.
Here is a steamboat on the Mississippi River. Can you find the Mississippi River on a map?  
There is a great deal of vocabulary in
this lesson. The parent-teacher can
decide how much to assign based on
the age of the students.
This horse's laid-back ears show that it is not happy
with the man tightening the pack-saddle girth
A. Planning
B. Vocabulary
C. Reading/Discussion
D. Bible Lessons
E. English
F. Math
G. Science: Equines
G2. Science: Meterology
H. Other Possible Science
I. Geography: Horses
Visit the
Wagon Shed & Harness Room for more
about carriages, wagons, carts &

Discussion:  When travel is difficult or transportation costs are high, what does this do to
the cost of goods?