I never made the link between scout trek carts and the Wild West type pioneer trek carts featured in this episode of Mormon and American West history.
This is a pioneer story as gripping and tragic as that of the Oregon Trail.
“To cut down on expensive wagons and oxen, some 3,000 of the [Mormon] pioneers subsequently used low-cost wooden handcarts that were light enough to be pulled across the Great Plains. One family or five individuals were assigned to a handcart, with 18 to 20 people sharing a tent. A cart hauled no more than 200 pounds — about 17 pounds of baggage per person. Each highly organized company was led by an experienced guide and was accompanied by at least four oxen-drawn supply wagons.
The first party of handcarts set out from Iowa City, Iowa, on 9 June 1856 with a company of 266 people from England, followed two days later by a second company of just over 200. These early handcart brigades successfully arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, but the trips were not easy. Pioneer journals recorded harsh weather, the threat of hostile Indians, the death of fellow travelers and the ongoing hardships of hunger and fatigue.”