Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buckboard Wagons..the farmers and ranchers work horse

The Buckboard wagons created in the 1800's were used by farmers and cowboys to transport themselves and supplies. But, what is a buckboard? The "buckboard" was the front most board on the wagon that acted as both a footrest and protection for the driver. The protection being from the horse's rear hooves in case of a "buck"- hence "Buckboard" wagon.

The buckboard wagon was simple, light, had four wheels and was uncovered. There were elastic, board slats extending from the front axle to the rear axle. The seats were placed upon these flexible boards. The boards were used instead of ordinary springs. If there were springs, they were placed between the board and the seat and not attached to the axles. There were no sides on the body of the wagon, just iron rails three or four inches high. These rails would help to hold in the supplies or other packages.

The buckboard wagon was pulled by a single horse or two horses. The wagon was steered by its front wheels which were connected to each other by a single axle. The wagon had two rows of seats, the back row could be taken off if the driver needed more hauling room.

It is believed that the Buckboard wagon was created in 1841 by Horace and James Buck. They lived in Portland, Oregon, but went to Europe to study wagon making (since that is where most of the wagons/carriages started). Horace and James came back to Portland with their new skills and start a carriage business and created the Buckboard wagon. 

Although, there is evidence to suggest that Horace and James created the buckboard wagon in South Carolina, where they eventually did most of their carriage business.

The buckboard wagon was a simple but sturdy all around work wagon. The farmers used it for supplies, fencing material, and transporting their families to and from town. The ranchers used the wagons for tools, ranch supplies, and animal supplies.

Much like today's ranchers and farmers with their favorite beat up old "pick up" truck, these buckboard wagons were the "pick up" trucks of the 1800's. Of course " horse power"  took on a whole other in meaning in the 1800's.

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