American Pioneers

Life on the Trail

Pioneers often moved from one place to another by steamboat, raft, wagon (most often the Connestoga, (a.k.a Prairie Schooner) stagecoach, or, later, by train. Sometimes they even came on foot, on mules or on horseback.

Pioneers had many different choices of trails to take and places to go. They most often took the Santa Fe Trail to California or the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Territory. On the way they hunted often. The early pioneers had plenty of game, but as more and more people came, it became less and less plentiful, so farmers had to begin to raise livestock (animals) on their farms for food.

Pioneers moved because they wanted to escape, were persuaded by the Homestead Act, wanted a new start, for health reasons, were adventuresome, or had no choice.

Most pioneers moved by covered wagon. Sometimes several wagons moved together in a line called a Wagon Train. The wagons were very small so, pioneers often stuffed in as much supplies as they could. They mostly brought food, dishes, several pieces of special furniture (as more could be made easily), clothing, bedding (quilts and pillows), farm animals, a weapon, and sometimes a small camping stove. Since the pioneers packed very heavily, they had to throw things out along the way. The wagons were for supplies, so people had to walk or ride horses next to the wagon.

Table of Contents


Medicine, Food, and Clothing

The Homestead Act

Religion, Tradition, and Fun

Native Americans and Outlaws

Life after Settling