Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fort Laramie in Goshen County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
 

Handcarts – The New Plan

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

 
 
Handcarts – The New Plan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 2, 2015
1. Handcarts – The New Plan Marker
Inscription.
We cannot afford to purchase wagons and teams as in times past. I am consequently thrown back upon my old plan – to make hand-carts, and let the emigration foot it . . .       Brigham Young, 1855

Between 1856 and 1860, nearly 3,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, pulled their earthly possessions in two-wheeled handcarts from Iowa to Utah. Most “Handcart Pioneers” were poor immigrant converts from northern Europe.

A typical fully loaded handcart weighed between 300 and 500 pounds. Costing as little as $10 apiece to build, the handcart was considerably cheaper than the $300 to $500 for a wagon and ox team. Only the better-made handcarts had iron-rimmed wheels, causing at least one elder to question their sturdiness. Church President Brigham Young, however, expressed confidence in the venture’s success, observing that the emigrants “can come just as quick, if not quicker and much cheaper – can start earlier and escape the prevailing sickness which annually lays so many of our brethren in the dust.”

Tragedy on the Plains
Of the 10 handcart companies attempting the journey, all but two completed the trip successfully. Plagued by a late departure, a shortage of provisions, and an early severe
Handcarts – The New Plan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 2, 2015
2. Handcarts – The New Plan Marker
winter storm, the Martin and Willie companies were destined for tragedy. In October 1856, near present-day Casper, Wyoming, over 200 members of these ill-fated companies died. One survivor poignantly described the scene, “Death had taken a heavy toll and the Ravine was like an overcrowded tomb. No mortal tongue could describe the suffering.” The handcart era ended after 1860, when church leaders decided to use only wagons and ox teams to haul emigrants and freight west.
 
Erected by National Park Service.
 
Location. 42° 12.186′ N, 104° 33.305′ W. Marker is in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in Goshen County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 160, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is located at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Laramie WY 82212, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Post Quartermaster’s Area (here, next to this marker); Crossroads of a Nation Moving West (within shouting distance of this marker); Embassy on the Northern Plains (within shouting distance of this marker); The Post Bakeries (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Commissary Storehouse
Marker at Fort Laramie image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 2, 2015
3. Marker at Fort Laramie
(about 400 feet away); Site of Army Bridge (about 400 feet away); The Queens of Soap Suds Row (about 500 feet away); Guardhouse (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Fort Laramie.
 
More about this marker. A painting by William H. Jackson at the upper left of the marker depicts emigrants, many with handcarts, traveling the Oregon Trail. Above the “Tragedy on the Plains” text is a painting of “The Rescuers” by Glenn Hopkinson. A photo of the barracks at the bottom of the marker includes a caption of “A spruce tree was planted near the cavalry barracks in 1947 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Mormon Trail and serve as a memorial to those who died along the way. Some were buried in the post cemetery, such as Thomas Tennant, whose funeral took place here on October 7, 1856.”
 
Also see . . .  Fort Laramie National Historic Site. (Submitted on August 10, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
 
Categories. Roads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers
 
Handcarts at Fort Laramie image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 2, 2015
4. Handcarts at Fort Laramie
An example of a handcart can be viewed at Fort Laramie.
Handcart on the Oregon Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2015
5. Handcart on the Oregon Trail
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 159 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   5. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement