The World of Work: History of Work in Minnesota


The métis were known for the two-wheeled carts that carried furs and hides from Canada and the Red River country across Minnesota to the Mississippi. The carts were made entirely of wood and were pulled by an ox or pony. For safety and help in getting across rivers and mudholes, many drivers and carts chose to travel together. A train of 100 or 200 carts might leave the métis town of Pembina on the Canadian border and travel two months before reaching St. Paul. The routes they followed became known as the Red River Trails. The métis and their carts helped make St. Paul one of the most important fur markets in the country. [NL]

Fur Traders


Red River Cart

Artwork Minnesota Historical Society.

Drawing by Charles W. Jeffreys
from “The Picture Gallery of Canadian History”

The Red River Cart
No iron was used. The frame was held together with wooden pegs. The tires were bound round with strips of raw fresh skin of buffalo or cattle, which as it dried, shrank & held them tightly, forming a hard & durable rim. These carts followed the metis’ hunting parties & carried the meat of the slain buffalo. They were also employed in transporting freight. Sometimes they were fitted with a round-topped hood of hide or canvas.


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