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Transportation Research: Overland

Minnesota transportation from animal-drawn carts and wagons to airplanes and mass transit.

About Overland Transportation

Animals, the original "horse power, " have been transporting people and their goods over land for centuries and in many different ways:

  • People rode horses to get from one place to another.
  • The Red River ox carts brought the Metis traders and their fur goods from Pembina to St. Paul and other places.
  • Dog carts and sleds transported people and goods over many miles.
  • Horse-drawn wagons transported settlers and their possessions from the river to inland locations before the arrival of the railroad and later served as delivery vehicles for milk, vegetables, and furniture.
  • Horse-drawn carriages provided transporation to individuals and families.
  • Horse-drawn coaches such as stage coaches provided transportation from one community to another.
  • Horse-drawn sleighs transported people over ice and snow during the winter.

Researching Overland Transportation

Search the library catalog for books and other published materials, manuscript collections, and State Archives collections about overland transportation. Useful search terms: coaching, trails, carriages and carts, military roads

Selected manuscript and State Archives collection finding aids detailing box locations and contents are available online. Others are available in notebooks in the Library. 

Photographs, artwork, and artifacts documenting overland transportation can be found in Collections Online. Useful search terms: transportation overland, carriages and coaches, carts and wagons, sleds and sleighs

Newspapers may contain advertisements and stories about overland transportation.

Selected Overland Transportation Resources

Northwestern Express, Stage, and Transportation Company Corporate Records, 1868-1886.
Accounts and memoranda of this overland express and stage company which operated lines in Minnesota, Dakota Territory, the Black Hills, and western Nebraska.
MNHS call number:  See the finding aid in the library (P1002).

The Red River Trails: Oxcart Routes Between St. Paul and the Selkirk Settlement, 1820-1870, by Rhoda R. Gilman, Carolyn Gilman, Deborah M. Stultz.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1979.
MNHS call number: Reading Room F1063.G54

Overland Staging Industry in Minnesota, 1849-1880, by Robert Hybben and Jeffrey A. Hess
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office, 1990.
MNHS call number: HE5748.M6H92 1990

Tracing Minnesota's Old Government Roads, by Grover Singley
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society, 1974.
MNHS call number: Reading Room F609.S58

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Related Research Guides & Webpages

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Tuesday: 9am to 8pm • Wed. to Sat.: 9am to 4pm • Sunday & Monday: Closed • Holiday Hours