The Conestoga wagon was ubiquitous settlement symbol of the American West. The Conestoga wagon was known for it's billowing canvas cover. The wagons were sometimes called "prairie schooners" for they looked like sailing ships over the seas of sagebrush that covered the High Plains. The white canvas cover reflected the hot sun and provided some protection from the elements for crew and cargo. The Conestoga wagon was named after the river by the same name found in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where it is believed that German Mennonite and some Amish craftsmen perfected the wagon's design sometime in the early 1700s. An entry from History.com talks about the wagon's clever design:
Designed for hauling heavy loads over rough roads, the covered wagons could carry as much as six tons of freight; each one was handcrafted from wood (including oak and poplar). The floor of the Conestoga wagon curved upwards at each end to prevent the wagon's contents from shifting or falling out when it was in motion, while gates at the end were held in place by a chain and could be dropped for loading and unloading purposes.
With the history of the wagon in mind and the Amish/Mennonite connection to it I couldn't help but be intrigued and amused at this wonderful photo from the settlement of Jamesport, Missouri. Thanks to BethR for sharing! The Amish children in the top photo are riding a pony cart with some sort of cover to shield them from the sun. And it looks uncannily like their forefather's invention, the Conestoga Wagon (below, image from the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana). I'll share more images from Jamesport in the days ahead!