ask the marshall Red River Cart true west

What is a Red River cart?

Bob Fuller — Vermillion, South Dakota

A Red River cart is a two-wheeled wooden vehicle, usually pulled by oxen, but sometimes by horses or mules. It is similar to the Mexican carreta.

ask the marshall Red River Cart true west
Due to the scarcity or expense of nails during the frontier era, Red River carts contained no iron and were constructed entirely of wood and tied together with bison hide strips.
— True West archives —

The carts were developed by the Métis, mixed-blood Canadian fur traders in Canada’s Red River Colony (later Manitoba). They were the primary conveyance in the Canadian West from the frontier days until the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the end of the 19th century.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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