History of Oklahoma

By Edward Everett Dale; Morris L. Wardell | Go to book overview
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Transportation, Communication, and Industry

EARLY TRAILS

WITHIN A CENTURY Oklahoma has experienced a revolution in travel. The Plains Indians moved from place to place on foot or on horses. To transport their belongings, two poles about twelve feet long with ends dragging on the ground were fastened to the sides of a horse or. tied to a pack saddle. Sometimes children or persons too old or too tired to walk were conveyed on this device by means of a carrier--a sort of basket that looked like an over-sized bird cage. The French called this device a travois.

Early trappers and traders used pack horses for carrying their goods, and saddle horses for their own transportation. These were more satisfactory than wagons drawn by oxen or horses. After trails had been well established, wagons were used. The physical features of Oklahoma called for the most convenient means of transportation and for routes that served a definite purpose.

In eastern Oklahoma steamboat transportation was used. Many of these steamboats that operated on the Arkansas River and its tributaries were constructed with a very shallow draft. It is not true that, as has been reported, they "could navigate after a heavy dew," but they ascended remarkably shallow

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