Wagons, without them, the West would never have been won. No one knows when the first wagon as we know it today was invented but when some cave man figured out the wheel we were on our way. Wagons, horses, and mules were the only means of transportation for thousands of years. Wagons I guess you could say were the modern day equivalent of pickup trucks. Wagon manufacturing came into its own in the 1700’s as this country really started its western expansion. Wagons were manufactured in the east and shipped west to such points as St. Louis where they were used on the Santa Fe Trail. In the 1800’s wagon manufacturers began springing up further west eliminating shipping cost. At first wagons were built in small shops and then sent to a Blacksmith to be “ironed”. But as production increased all the steps of manufacturing a wagon was incorporated into one place. There were small wagon shops that never turned out more than one wagon a week to large companies like Studebaker that advertised that they could turn out a complete wagon every seven minutes. In 1904 the Ft. Smith Wagon Company in Ft. Smith, Ark. built 10,000 wagons. 

At lot of folks call any wagon a Conestogo wagon, which is incorrect. The name Conestogo originated from wagons that were made in the Conestogo Valley of Pennsylvania beginning in 1725. As far as we’ve been able to determine there was never a wagon made with the name Conestogo on the side of it although the style of wagon construction is referred to as Conestogo. 

Wagons are rolling history books, if only each one could talk and tell us their story. When you see a wagon you’re looking at the past. A time and place that will never be again. Hundreds of thousands of wagons were manufactured from the 1700’s to as late as 1952 when the Springfield Wagon Company in Fayetteville, Ark. closed its doors forever. Today there are a handful of people who still carry on the trade in a much smaller way. When I see an old rotted wagon out in the middle of a field it makes me sad. Years ago that old wagon meant something to some pioneer family. It was as highly prized as a new pickup would be today. That old wagon saw babies born, people die, Indians, buffalo, open prairie without fences as far as the eye could see, laughter, tears, sunrise and sunsets by a campfire on the trail, cattle drives, wild Longhorn cows, real cowboys, and much more. It saw our westward expansion into a time and place it could never have dreamed of. So, when you see an old wagon try to remember some  these things because you’re looking at one of the greatest symbols of the American West!

Listed below are some of the better know wagon companies and the date they were established.
There is very little known information on some companies.
Also, we have been unable to locate color images of some of the wagons,
Only black and white.  



The Moline Wagon Company Est. 1864

Rock Island Plow and Wagon Company Est. 1855

Fish Brothers Wagon Company Est. 1862

Weber & Damme Wagon Co. Est. 1861

Newton Wagon Company Est. 1838

Charter Oak Wagons, Joel Turney Co. Est. 1856

Ft. Smith Wagon Company Est. 1903

John Deere Wagon Company Est. 1854

Bain Wagon Company Est. 1840

Luedinghaus and Espenschied Wagon Company 
Est. 1843

Peter Schuttler Wagon Company Est. 1839

Flint Wagon Company Est. 1882

Studebaker Wagon Company Est. 1852

Springfield Wagon Company Est. 1873

J. Murphy Wagon Company Est. 1826

Mitchell Wagon Company Est. 1834

Owensboro Wagon Company Est. 1883

Conestoga Wagon (Maker Unknown)
Hagley Museum, Wilmington, Del. 

Florence Wagon Company Est. 1889


Henry Knapheide Wagon Co. Est. 1848



Piedmont Wagon Co. est. 1877







In 1877 the Omaha Herald published a set of rules for traveling by Stagecoach.
Click here to see what Stage travel was like!







Photos by Tom Bob


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