by & illustrated by
Age Range: 9 - 11
Email this review


In a tribute to “the tractor-trailers of their time,” the author describes in loving detail the history and value of the uniquely designed Conestoga wagon. From 1750 to 1850, the Conestoga was king, and sometimes as many as 3,000 wagons a day traveled between Philadelphia and Lancaster as well as west to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. They carried as much as five tons of cargo: loads of bacon, butter, cider, flour, rope, tools, mail, coal, and more from port cities to settlements throughout Pennsylvania along what would become the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Ammon (An Amish Year, 1999, etc.) explains in detail how the wagon was built by hand, including shaping the wooden body, waterproofing the linen cover with linseed oil or beeswax, forging the iron rim to the wooden wheel of 14 or 16 spokes, attaching the end gate, and setting the hitch for easy hauling of heavy loads. Readers will learn how advanced this wagon was; for instance, it was the only one to have brakes. Several contemporary expressions derive from those wagon days: “Mind your P’s and Q’s,” “I’ll be there with bells on,” and “teamster.” While the text is rich in detail, the paintings by the illustrator of Robert Fulton: From Submarine to Steamboat (1999) provide a dreamy contrast. In muted sepia and gold, or muted blues and grays, they hint of times past, but occasionally miss some of the clear details the viewer longs for, given the superbly precise text. Still this is a strikingly well-done essay on a slice of Americana seldom told and well worth exploring. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8234-1475-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000


ChildrenSOJO by Pam Flowers
by Pam Flowers
ChildrenTHE HUNTER'S PROMISE by Joseph Bruchac
by Joseph Bruchac