Wagon Trains for Kids Illustration

Wagon Trains for Kids

For Kids

What was a wagon train? A wagon train was a group of covered wagons that traveled together, headed west, in a straight line. There was a wagon master, called a captain, who was in charge. At night, the captain would direct the wagons to form a circle for protection from bandits and other dangers.

How did you find a wagon train to join?  Most wagon trains left from Missouri or Iowa. Wagon trains were businesses. They took reservations. People booked passage, but had to purchase their own supplies including oxen and wagons.  Some wagon trains were organized by people from the same town or area.

Wagons:  Most pioneers purchased modified or manufactured wagons designed for the trip. Some had built-in features like sleeping berths and false floors over large storage areas. Some wagons were very simple. Some families had more than one wagon.

What did they take with them?  A wagon held about 2,000 pounds of goods. People were advised to carry enough food to feed their individual families for at least 5 months.

How far did a wagon train travel in one day? If the ground was muddy, the might spend an entire day moving forward one mile. If it was dry, they might move forward 5-10 miles.

The Oregon Trail - Learn about life on the trail


For Teachers

Wagon Trains, powerpoints 

Western Expansion Index