Did you know that the Philadelphia to Lancaster Turnpike, first completed in 1794, was the first successful turnpike in the new American nation? It was built with the help of Conestoga wagons from Lancaster County! The cigars that the Conestoga wagon drivers smoked became known as"stogies".
Turnpikes were originally built as for-profit enterprises with private money. A toll taker would rotate a pike or timber that blocked the highway, after a toll was paid, clearing the way for a vehicle to pass - hence the name of "turnpike".
Later on, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, started in 1938 and completed in 1941, became the first modern turnpike, going straight through mountains instead of around them.
The Conestoga wagon, named for the Conestoga Indians and the Conestoga River area whence they first arose, made an outstanding contribution to both early agriculture and commerce. The vehicles were noted in historical writings as being called Conestoga Wagons as early as 1716 by James Logan, secretary to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
The horses that pulled the Conestoga wagons were controlled by a driver on the left side of the wagon, differentiating them from the European style of wagons that were driven from the right. American cars and trucks to this day are driven from the left because of this precedent.
These covered wagons were so popular and practical that they became the prime movers for the great Western migration. Conestoga wagons peaked in use about the 1840s, when canals and railroads began to take over the transportation of heavy freight.
The Conestoga wagon was a common and patriotic sight in early America, with its typical red wheels and running gear, blue bodies, and white tops!
Brian Schulman offers expert personalized real estate representation and services in Lancaster County, PA. To contact him, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/