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Red River Ox Carts


Ronny Pede


Although many people think that Alexander Hamilton Jr.was generally credited with the introduction of the Red River Ox Carts ofPembina, in 1801 some of his journeys show that he found them already inuse. The name of the actual inventor seems to be lost in obscurity. Well,back then people used the rough carts, and thought they were more convenientthan to load up on horses, or maybe, I should say, they usually say theydidn't want horses for the job when they could get ox carts.

These carts were made of solid oak. But get this, theynever used any steel, iron, or other metals for this cart. And insteadof using nails, they used wooden pegs and pins. Of course, it was alsovery sturdy. There was little change in the ox carts until 1841 when JosephRolette, the fur trader, who moved to Fort Pembina. He thought they shouldbuild a lighter model. Especially as far as the box was concerned, thelighter the box the more they could put in the cart. Kittson's first ventureof transportation by ox cart was all failures. And within the next twoyears they lost about a thousand dollars in fur money. Each cart was pulledby one oxen.

And in 1858, the value of furs valued in St. Paul from$161,022 and in 1863, when the Sioux outbreak came, it ranged into 250,000dollars. Most of the money made on the furs was spent in St. Paul. Thefur trade was the most important industry in the whole state, up to theCivil Way. By the time lumbering had begun to crowd out the fur trade. The furs were chiefly otter, beaver, martin, and muskrat.

In 1862, we were surrounded by the Sioux on the outbreak. The other sites with the outbreak and other histories episode of that section. It is hoped that the efforts put forth to stimulate the greatest interestin the northern part of the OLD PEMBINA TRAIL.