After the Conestoga and the common farm wagon, this freight wagon was the most commonly used on the trail.  It was not quite as tall as a Conestoga and was a bit more stable on the trail.  It didn’t tip as easily, but it was not suitable for mountain trails.  (Wagon on display at Scottsbluff National Monument)


The narrow width of the Murphy Wagon meant you had to creative about packing.  The bed was 16 feet long, 4 feet wide and 6 feet high.  The rear wheels were seven feet high.  This wagon was capable of carrying 6,000 lbs of goods (3 tons) and was originally created for the Santa Fe Trail.   In order to make good use of the space, furniture that could be disassembled was.  It wasn’t unusual for the youngest children to sleep inside the wagon wherever there was room.



A single buffalo like this one could mean meat for several wagons.  However, buffalo were rarely alone.  During the Oregon Trail days, vast herds of millions of buffalo roamed freely on the plains.  If they were crossing the trail, there was nothing the emigrants could do but wait (sometimes for days) for the animals to pass.  Hunting them could be dangerous because a stampede could easily turn toward the wagon train.



These animals were quite common and easily shot in the early days of the Trail.  They gave about 60 lbs of usable meat, but it was gamey and tasted of sagebrush.  Emigrants used a lot of antelope, but preferred other meats.  The bison or buffalo was the best meat available and the antelope one of the poorest.