The replica is styled after the Studebaker wagons that were sometimes refered to as "Prairie Schooners" typically used during this time period. This wagon will be used in the new Interpretive Center being constructed at Donner Memorial State Park. View more images of this and other "Prairie Schooners" custom-built by Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop.
In 2009, Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop built a similar wagon for the Fort Laramie National Historical Society Museum in Wyoming. Below is a web article about that historic wagon.
1840’s Prairie Schooner
The 1840’s prairie schooner with lynch pin clouted axles and ribbed panel construction was hand-crafted from the ground-up using original designs and processes. All the wood in the construction was shaped with a spoke shave to replicate the tool marks on the finished product that would have been present with original methods used in the construction of such a vehicle. All irons were hand-forged and parts were studied from archeology digs. Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop used this information to accurately replicate the wagon into a piece that would have been used during this time period at the Fort.
This prairie schooner will serve as an interaction piece at the National Park, serving its multi-purpose as a display by the officer's quarters as well as being driven with either oxen or horses for special historical events. A seat was included and could be used while the wagon was pulled by horses, or could be removed if used with oxen. Draft chains were also incorporated with the wagon which would have been used while driven with oxen, and a drop wagon pole was constructed as recommended by Randolph Barnes Marcy (The Author of “The Prairie Traveler.”) A wagon hammer passed through the hammer strop of the pole and attached the double tree or chain. This hammer served as both a draft pin and a tool for the removal of the lynch pins from the axles.
Ft. Laramie was originally developed as a trading post named Ft. John at the union of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers. Eventually it was renamed after a Frenchman,
La Ramie, (Laramie) and the fort was used to house supplies and soldiers, as well as provide provisions for travelers on their long migration across the prairie. This prairie schooner would very likely have been the vehicle of choice for many of the travelers passing through the fort in the time period from 1840-1870. Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop also constructed a Mormon hand cart that is also present at the Fort torepresent the Mormon migration that traveled through the fort during a brief period in history.