Wagons for trail travel were of the simplest construction. They cost $85.00 each. They were light, strong and carried on sturdy wheels. It was recommended that wheels be made of bois-d-oro, osage of orangewood or white oak. Bolt ends should be riveted on the running gear to prevent accidents. Concord, New Hampshire Spring Wagons were preferred. The wagon cost $85.00, the wagon cover cost $100.00.
Six mule team wagons were the preferred mode of travel but oxen were often used as they were cheaper, less liable to stampede and covered long distances better. The cost for six mules was $600 while for eight oxen $200. The harness cost $24. Total cost for oxen, harness, wagon and cover: $409.
Six months of supplies were needed for the Oregon Trail journey. Total suggested supplies for family of four - no more than 2400 pounds should be taken in one wagon.
3 rifles at $20.00 each
3 pairs of pistols at $15.00 each
5 barrels of flour, 1080 pounds
Bacon, 700 pounds
Coffee, 75 pounds
Tea, 5 pounds
Sugar, 150 pounds
Rice, 75 pounds
Dried fruit, 100 pounds
Salt and pepper, 25 pounds
Beans, 200 pounds
Lard, 200 pounds
Lead, 200 pounds
Tent, 30 pounds
Bedding, 45 pounds
Cooking utensils, 30 pounds
Matches, candles, soap, 50 pounds
Private baggage, 150 pounds
Supplies were stored compactly to insure room for all necessary goods. Bacon was placed in sacks with 100 pounds in each. In the case of high heat, it was urged that the sacks be placed in boxes surrounded by bran to prevent the fat from melting. Flour was placed in double canvas sacks, 100 pounds per sack.
4 to 6 oxen at $25.00 each
3 teams or 6 oxen or
8 to 10 mules at $75.00 each
Oxen were preferred since they were much gentler, steadier and in case of dire need, could be eaten.
Most furniture items were eventually discarded to lighten the heavy load as the animals wore out or died.