Image of the Colonial exhibit with a manikin of a Revolutionary War Soldier next to Horse Team drawing a wagon.

Colonial Era Transportation

Colonial America was primarily agricultural and there were no major roads. The easiest way to travel from one colony to another was by sea, while the highways of the day were the rivers. Roads were few and in poor condition often impacted by weather. When the Revolutionary War began, General George Washington was faced with enormous transportation problems. Wagons were few, and there were not enough skilled teamsters to drive them, nor wheelwrights and blacksmiths to maintain them. America had no navy to defend sea travel and river travels was limited to areas not controlled by the British. The Americans built the first military transportation system while at war, establishing a model using a combination of Soldiers and contract civilians to operate both watercraft and wagons to meet the demand. The Revolutionary War exhibit is centered around a reproduction Conestoga wagon, the mainstay for land transport, named for the Conestoga valley in Pennsylvania.