Built with a curved floor to reduce shifting of cargo, the Conestoga wagon featured caulked seams to prevent leaking when crossing streams or rivers and had large, wide wheels for traveling over rough or muddy ground. Contrary to the common image portrayed by television and motion pictures, the Conestoga wagon had no seat in the front of the wagon. The draft animals were controlled by a teamster who either walked alongside the wagon or rode the wheel horse [the animal imediately in front of the wagon on the left side].
Painting of a Conestoga Wagon (1883) by Newbold Hough Trotter in the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Photograph Ad Meskens.