Nowadays, we don’t think twice about hopping in a vehicle and heading out to commute to work or on a day trip to visit relatives or even a 1,000-mile vacation to the Grand Tetons. But a hundred and fifty years ago, it was a different story. Before planes, cars, and trains, travel was limited to walking, horseback, or wagons.

Westward expansion in the U.S. in the mid-1800’s called for many a family to pack up their possessions and purchase a covered wagon in which to travel. Such a move wasn’t easy and was often plagued with hardships and illness.

Travel inside the jarring wagon was anything but pleasant. Often family members would choose to walk alongside it rather than endure the constant jolting. Breakdowns and delays were the norm for those heading west in search of free or richer land.

In my novel, Under This Same Sky, my heroine, Becky Hollister, and her pa, with the help of hero, Pastor Matthew Brody, must cross a sizable river in a covered wagon. When the venture goes awry, Becky is forced to take the reins and spur the horses across. It takes every ounce of strength and courage she can muster to make it to the other side.

Crossing a river wasn’t the only challenge wagon travelers faced. Travel by land was slow and treacherous, with many obstacles to overcome. The rugged prairie terrain often caused broken spokes or axles. After a rainstorm, wheels would become bogged in mud and some routes became impassible.

The further west the homesteaders traveled, the more difficult the challenges–steep hills, harsh weather, wild animals, and hostile Indians. Wagon trains were common in those days, pulling into a circle by night for protection.

Though the journey was difficult, there was often joy, anticipation, and community among the travelers as they journeyed toward a new home.

~ Have you ever made a major move from one region to another? What was most difficult? What brought the most joy? I’d love to hear your experience!


Cynthia Roemer’s PRAIRIE SKY SERIES: Stories of faith and resilience on the Midwest prairie Inspirational Historical Romance


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