Handcart Lumber

Ideally the lumber should have satisfied a wagonmaker’s specifications: hickory for axles, elm for hubs, white oak for spokes and rims, ash for shafts and box, and all of it well seasoned. In practise, an especially later in the summer as time and supplies both ran sho the carts were made of whatever could be found, most of it oak an hickory and a lot of it green. Here, as in other aspects of the handcart experiment, an original over-optimism was complicated by unforeseen difficulties of organization and supply. Economy or no economy, those carts should never have been designed without iron axles and iron tires, and should never under any circumstances have been built with green lumber. The shrinking aridity beyond the 98th meridian, the sand of the Platte valley, the rocky Black Hills, were all so familiar to the authors of the scheme that they should have known. And no matter what they were made of, it was a fatal miscalculation that the carts were not ready when the first converts arrived. The delay, merely awkward for the Saints from the Enoch Train and the S. Curling, was progressive; it became disastrous for the emigrants from the Thornton and the Horizon.