Monday, July 7, 2014
Traveling in Time
It's finally time for the big reveal. This week's mystery artifact is called a traveler, and the metal wheel was used to measure a specific unit of distance (for this artifact, about 24 inches). You might see a similar tool being used today to by modern surveyors measuring distance, like the one below.
These helpful metal tools were used to measure the circumference of a wagon wheel to make sure the iron tire placed around the wheel would fit. The wooden wheels were reinforced with iron tires to make them sturdier as they navigated rough and bumpy terrain.
The iron tire would be heated and fitted to the wheel, then quenched in water quickly to keep the wooden wheel from singing or being damaged. The quenching also caused the iron to shrink tight around the wooden wheel.
Wagons were extremely important in the expansion of the United States. The wagon was a moving truck, chapel, and house for weeks or months at a stretch. This original mobile home helped European-Americans move west and settle across the breadth of the continent.
The computer game Oregon Trail often played by schoolchildren features a wagon as the mode of transportation, with the players acting the part of settlers forging their route westward through an unforgiving terrain. As we all know from classic Westerns, wagons would travel in groups called wagon trains.
Travelers were important tools used by early blacksmiths to help make wagon transportation safer and more efficient for the earliest settlers of the majority of our country.