I’m in the final stretch of writing my next Proxy Bride book, A Bride for Hamilton. In it, Sadie, my heroine finds herself married to a well-to-do man out west in Nebraska. The story calls
A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and contents weighing as much as a ton! Wow! I had no idea! Apparently their pulling abilities exceed their ability to carry on their back. Here are some of the wagons and carriages that would have existed in the 1850s:
Buckboard Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should they buck.
Gig Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that seated one or two people. It was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.
Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.
Barouche: A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses.
Victoria Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.
Phaeton: The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.
Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.
Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.
Conestoga Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.
So, I have concluded that Sadie was probably using either the buckboard or the gig depending on the situation.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read some of the other proxy bride stories while you’re waiting for Sadie and Hamilton, here is one I'm sure you'll enjoy:
Ransom is just looking for a mother for his orphaned niece. The fact that she’s from Boston is a bonus. Their arrangement allows him to get out of town.
Hannah needs a husband. Her new name will protect her siblings. The fact that he lives in the back of beyond gives them a place to hide. She hadn’t counted on him being so appealing.
But what happens when they realize how very permanent their proxy marriage truly is?
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Great post. Thank you for this wonderful "encyclopedia" of wagon info.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the rundown of some of the wagons and carriages available in the 19th century. My proxy bride and groom live in town and walk where they need to go. In other stories, I've used a buckboard and other modes of transportation. Good luck with your new release!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Wendy, for a very informative article - certainly a keeper for us western historical authors.ReplyDelete