The Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles is pleased to welcome into its collection of vehicles an 1827 Conestoga wagon built in Bernville, Pa. This impressive artifact from our country’s earlier years was used to transport grain from Berks County to Philadelphia, making a stop at Reading stores on the return trip to drop off merchandise purchased in the big city. While many think of Conestoga wagons as moving families across the country, this is largely a myth. Conestoga wagons such as this one were the main freight haulers in the days before trucking.
Though difficult to see, one of the most interesting things about this Conestoga is the handwriting on the sides. There are, in pencil, mathematical equations drawn on the wagon’s side panels. We assume that the driver needed to do some calculations and, lacking paper, used the side of his wagon as a substitute. It is details like this that show how hard vehicles such as this one was used and give it some character and life beyond the wood and iron from which it is formed.
Regular visitors to the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles will probably recognize the Conestoga wagon. It had previously been on loan to the Museum from the Historical Society of Berks County for many years. The Historical Society recently deaccessioned the piece from its collection. The Boyertown Museum was fortunate enough to attain it as a result, and make it a part of its permanent collection, where it can continue educating visitors about life and commerce right here in Berks County.