Friday, 20 April 2018

R is for Red River Carts ...


These large two-wheeled carts were made entirely from local materials only - wood and hide ... nails were unavailable or very expensive as trading routes expanded ...

Red River Ox cart (1851)
by Frank Blackwell Mayer

They were used throughout most of the 19th century, particularly in the Red River area ... when beaver fur was most in demand ... and needed to be transported across the new lands ...





Red River carts at an early railway station


... as the cart was very light it was very adaptable to conditions ... it could be floated across streams ... be easily repaired, yet was strong enough to carry loads as heavy as 450 kg ( 1,000 lbs).



Red River trading area
Lake Winnipeg in the north, Regina in
the west, to Fargo and on in the south

This style of cart was responsible for the European traders trading their goods north and south, east and west, until the coming of the steam ships along the major rivers and then the railways ... when these wonderful Red River Carts were replaced as transport modes ...




That is R for Red River Carts ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

31 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Amphibious vehicles! Lovely things. YAM xx

troutbirder said...

The Red River of the North. My youngest son live in Fargo and my did they have floods....

Liz A. said...

It would have been hard to transport stuff before roads. I hadn't seen these sorts of things before.

Truedessa said...

I wonder how the wheels stayed on, the carts don't look very sturdy.

Lenny Lee said...

very cool they built them without nails. imagine they were lashed together by strips of leather. sounds like they were strong and able to travel a long way without breaking down. being able to travel through water is a great benefit.

Joanne said...

interesting. You come up with unique stuff, that's for sure.

Elephant's Child said...

I am pretty certain that our forebears had some skills we have lost. Those carts are a prime example.

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. The carts were strong, durable and bio-degradable. Pity containers haven't stayed that way. Another interesting and informative post. Kim

Bob Scotney said...

I'm hoping that some are still in use on farms at least.

Nilanjana Bose said...

It's amazing what was built without nails just a century ago and without generating vast quantities of polluting substances...

Jean Davis said...

Building things without nails is amazing. And making it sturdy and watertight enough to float the cargo without nails too. I'm thinking we're a bit spoiled with our building products this days.

Deborah Weber said...

Necessity is the mother of some pretty amazing inventions.

Kristin said...

I imagine they used a peg system since they didn't have nails. They sound like they were perfect for the job at hand.

Jo said...

And nearly totally decimated the beaver population in the process. I didn't know about these carts Hilary, as others have said, hope there are still some around. I had not heard of these carts before.

Kali Delamagente said...

Sounds like the Conestoga wagons of the old west. They floated (surprisingly).

Out on the prairie said...

At the state fair they have competition with these carts, progressing up to four wheels and six horses that I enjoy watching. The second movement of Mormons heading west had hand carts like this that they pulled .

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yamini - so essential to get across the streams and the flooded lands ...

@ Troutbirder - it seems to be an interesting area - and thanks for the note re your son and the floods in the Fargo area ...

@ Liz - it certainly would have been difficult to travel - and I found these carts great to learn about ...

@ Truedessa - as Kristin mentions ... they would have used pegs ... and obviously these worked well for the area - where light vehicles would have been the best ...

@ Lenny - yes, isn't it ... most things were made just using wood ... the mortise and tenon is a good example. But as I mentioned above ... it'd have been using pegs. These carts were obviously special and worked really well ...

@ Joanne - well I like to engage you all!! Thanks ...

@ EC - we definitely have lost some skills - it's amazing how buildings were erected thousands of years ago, let alone in the last 1,000 years ...

@ Kim - exactly ... strong, light, durable and bio-degradeable - and as you mention it's a pity we use so much plastic today - and metal alloys ... as we keep finding out things we didn't know ...

@ Bob - I expect they'll be found in the local museums ... or as Steve mentions below ... at the Iowa State Fair ...

@ Nila - I know, as I mentioned above, we do contaminate our environment with so many manufactured bits and bobs ...

@ Jean - it's interesting to be reminded how not that long ago - particularly in the pioneering era - before manufacturing from Europe spread out - that we just used local natural resources ...

@ Deborah - exactly ... necessity is the mother of some amazingly useful items ...

@ Kristin - thanks for the note re the peg system ... I remembered mortise and tenon, but couldn't think of 'peg'! They must have been perfect for the job ...

@ Jo - yes ... well that was the way of the world unfortunately - and the skins kept everyone warm. I expect they may have preserved one or two carts in local museums ... but I was able to show another bit of Canada - as well as the carts ...

@ Jacqui - interesting I looked up Conestoga wagons - and they were much bigger, stronger and suitable for terrain ... not for the prairie lands ... I think they didn't float, but would have gone through fairly deep water being pulled by the oxen or transport animals ... because I gather they needed to be caulked, and even so may have leaked ...

@ Steve - oh how great to know they have kept alive these carts through the competition at the Iowa State Fair ... sounds like that would be fun to watch. Interesting to know about the way the Mormons moved across the land.

Thanks so much everyone - it's great to find out that they are still being used in the State Fair per Steve from Out on the Prairie blog ... and to remember that we didn't need iron to get around - at one stage! Cheers Hilary

diedre Knight said...

We are on the same wavelength today, though you're much more descriptive - delightfully so! I never tire of learning how 'we did back when' ;-)

Sherry Ellis said...

They must've been sturdy to handle all the traveling across rough terrain.

Rhodesia said...

Oh, I am learning so much from you this year, another great post. Happy weekend Diane

Silvia Villalobos said...

Tough life back in the day, of course it's the life people knew. Love reading about human ingenuity, and the Red River carts are a good example. Thank you,Hilary.

Vallypee said...

Lovely! I thought Red River was further south, or maybe it’s another one. Fascinating carts, though. I’ve never heard of them before! I love all these interesting posts on historical information!

Jz said...

You've given me an earworm, Miz Hilary.
I can't get "Red River Valley" out of my head... I may have to sing it for you....!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

It is amazing how much things have changed in the past century or two.

Keith's Ramblings said...

What sensible carts!Tough too to manage rough terrain and flowing rivers.

A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

Susan Scott said...

Those are very clever carts Hilary, probably better in many ways without nails - thank you!

quietspirit said...

I find these carts interesting. They remind me of the Conestoga wagons we had in the early US.

Emily Bloomquist said...

Wow, a float-able wagon that can carry that much weight was quite a useful tool to have then. I can only imagine how many woods they tried before they found just the right ones to make these from. Cool choice for R, Hilary.

Emily In Ecuador

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diedre - thanks ... I see what you mean ... getting across rivers on a raft for you, and by these carts for me! Thanks so much - always good to see you ...

@ Sherry - I think they were probably flexible and well suited to the conditions that they would be traversing ...

@ Diane - thanks so much ... I'm enjoying putting in different aspects for this year's A-Z ...

@ Silvia - exactly ... those early pioneers used what they knew and what they could get hold of ... these 'little' carts being good examples, as you say ...

@ Val - there is a Red River that runs into the Mississippi - while this northern Red River runs into the Nelson river and on to Hudson Bay. But thanks for letting me know about the two Red Rivers ... appropriate for my 'W' post a-coming! I enjoy writing up these historical snippets ...

@ Jz - I see about the Red River Valley folk song ... with pleasure - please sing out loud and clear! Great to add this in to the post ...

@ Arleen - isn't it extraordinary how much has changed in these recent centuries ... it's difficult for us to comprehend I think ... we are lucky ...

@ Keith - aren't they delightful carts ... just doing exactly what was needed to trade and explore ...

@ Susan - yes, they are clever aren't they ... being without nails meant they could be repaired as and when necessary ...

@ Cecelia - the Conestoga wagons are much bigger and heavier ... these little Red River carts suited the prairies ... also the wagons would have been 'ridden' through the rivers ... i.e. they wouldn't float ...

@ Emily - they were inventive in those days ... I expect they would have absorbed the right trees to use pretty quickly, having been around the area for a while - and having seen what the Natives used - I'm sure their knowledge was in tune with the earth ...

Thanks so much ... glad these little Red River Carts passed muster for my R post - cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

This makes me thankful for motorized vehicles (sort of.) :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - oh and I'm so thankful for all the other amenities ... I'd have survived, but not for too long I suspect! Cheers Hilary