artist rendering of a wind wagon courtesy of Time Life Books
The Colorado wind wagon arrived in Denver in 1860. It was entirely different from the traditional covered wagon.
These wagons were basically sailboats on wheels. Crossing the prairie, the winds would blow fiercely and propel the wind wagons and occupants on to their destination.
Many of the occupants of this so called fast transportation, were prospectors heading for the gold fields of Colorado to make their fortune.
Can you imagine seeing one of these sail past you on the plains while you are plodding along in your covered wagon pulled by a team of horses or ox?
What a sight! You would think your eyes were playing tricks on you. The first ever highway hypnosis!
There is some controversy into the merit of these wind wagons. Supposedly, they made the trip from Missouri to Colorado in just 20 days.
But the trails to Colorado were very narrow and the winds usually came from the north, west or northwest.
Obstacles included streams, boulders and gullies. The wagon would have to leave the trail to avoid them, possibly for many miles, then swing back and continue on.
Were they economical? Not really, when you consider the wind wagons would have to travel twice the distance to avoid natural obstacles.
The tried and true covered wagon pulled by a team could go over or through gullies and streams with little difficulty.
And if there wasn't any wind, which many times was the case, the wind wagons would be "dead in the water" so to speak and the covered wagon would continue on the journey.