MDSTMARY-L ArchivesArchiver > MDSTMARY > 2003-08 > 1060388015
From: "David Roberts" <>
Subject: [MDSTMARY-L] Traveling by Wagon train
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2003 20:13:35 -0400
References: <004c01c35de3$b452a3e0$8d1e3444@Bryant> <008301c35df9$0d2256e0$d6126720@default>
An EXCELLENT source is "The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the
Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1860" by John D. Unruh, Jr. University of
Illinois Press, 1979. I read this years ago. I think 15-25 miles a day might
be on the high side. 10-15 might be closer, if the conditions were "good"
... open prairie. 5-10 miles or less for crossing rivers, rough terrain,
etc. In a wagon train, the train moved as fast as the slowest wagon.
I just flipped thru' the index and found a chart:
to California [1841-1848] 157.7 days average travel time from the Missouri
River [Kansas City, Westport, Independence]; to Oregon for the same time
169.1 days. Maybe, that's 10 miles a day [or slightly less].... say +/-
1,500 miles from Missouri to the West Coast. Certainly from Missouri to the
South Pass [in Wyoming] they could make better time than they could in the
deserts and mountains further to the West.
Guess there were MANY factors to figure in to get an "average" trip.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Joseph E. Lake" <>
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 6:04 PM
Subject: Re: [MDSTMARY-L] Traveling by Waggon train
> Re your interest in "rate of wagon train travel" I have read some material
re travel on the Central Plains (I.e. Santa Fe Trail; Oregon Trail, etc) and
have retained the impression that it could fall in the range of 15 to 25
miles per day (on good days, under good conditions). Unfortunately I have
retained no record of sources of this info, so the above is just a ball park
> Don't see how it could be more than that however. In the midwest (IA; KS:
NE: OK: etc) the counties were originally sized by the estimate of "how far
a farm wagon could drive in one day", so that the (roughly) furtherest point
in a county would be roughly 15 miles from the county seat town which was
often close to the center of the county, i.e. 30 miles round trip in a day.
Again, I have no source to cite for that info but the general idea has been
"around" for many years to my knowledge.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Cass Johnson" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 12:31 PM
> Subject: [MDSTMARY-L] Traveling by Waggon train
> > Hi,
> > I have been reading a few journals , memoirs, and diaries to see if I
can determine how long it would take a family to travel 800 miles.
> > I have not had any luck with it.
> > My question is; Have any of you been able to determine how many average
miles a waggon train might travel in a day. I read an account of a single
person and he was moved swiftly from one livery stable to another. I would
assume that a waggon train with all of your belongings would be slow.
> > Thanks
> > Cass Johnson