My buddy says the pioneers used horses to pull wagons; I say, oxen.

My buddy says the pioneers used horses to pull wagons; I say, oxen. Which one of us is correct?

Richard Dowty

St. Paul, Oregon

You are!

Horses came in third after oxen and mules. When pulling a wagon of any kind on the long overland trails from Missouri to California or Oregon, horses broke down in a hurry.

A mule could cover 20 miles a day, while the oxen were slower at 15. Yet the oxen were more durable and sure-footed. They were also cheaper to fuel, as they could eat grass along the trail, while mules and horses needed grain to keep going. Plains Indian warriors also weren’t as likely to run off with your oxen like they would your horses and mules.

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