Emigrant Trail - Kids Page PDF Print

Emigrant Trails are a very important part of Nevada's history.

Early diary entries about the 40 Mile Desert

"About ten miles out the dead teams of [18]49 and [18]50 were seen scattered here and there on the rusted_wheel_hub-web.jpgroad very soon, however, they became more frequent and in a little while filled the entire roadside; mostly oxen with here and there a horse and once in a while a mule. Wagons, wagon irons, ox chains, harness, rifles, and indeed all the paraphernalia of an emigrant’s "outfit" lay scattered along this notorious route, reminding one of the defeat of some great army." —John Hawkins Clark (1852)  




"I had associated with the name "wells" a vision of an oasis—verdure, trees, and cooling water. The whole environment as far as the eye could reach was simply an abomination of desolation...as heaps of hills into which slowly percolated filthy-looking, brackish water. More than half the wells were unavailable as they were filled with the carcasses of cattle which had perished in trying to get water. To add to the natural horrors of the scene, about the wells were scattered the bodies of cattle, horses, and mules which had died here from overwork, hunger, and thirst; broken and abandoned wagons, boxes, bundles of clothing, guns, harness or yokes, anything and everything that the emigrant had outfitted with." —John Hawkins Clark (1852)


Drawings of early wagon types



















The Pioneers mainly traveled in covered wagons like the first two illustrations. However, the most interesting wagon, the Conestoga wagon was developed by the German settlers and it was about 24 feet in length. The wagon curves up in the front and rear, as well as curves outward at the sides so that the load would not shift or spill on the hills. The wagon was tended to be made of hickory, oak, or maple.

Many of the pioneers chose oxen instead of mules or horses because the oxen stronger. The father would drive the oxen by walking beside the wagon. The children would walk behind of the wagon much of the time. At night the wagon master would have the wagons form a big circle for protection from marauders and other dangers. This would secure the animals and the children could play inside the wagon circle after dinner and just before bed time.


Pioneer Supply List
(amount of food for each adult in the group)

200 pounds of Flour
30 pounds of pilot breat (hardtack)
75 pounds of bacon
10 pounds of rice
5 pounds of coffee
2 pounds of tea
25 pounds of sugar
1/2 bushel of dried beans
1 bushel of dried fruit
2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
10 pounds of salt
1/2 bushel of corn meal
1/2 bushel of corn, parched and ground
1 small keg of vinegar