| The wagon wheel is the stereotypical image of the 'frontier'. It represents the expansion of EuroAmerican settlements westward. Despite the fact that any movement would have required the entire wagon, not just the wheels, it is the wagon wheel alone that has become the representative image of the entire vehicle. A tableau depicting the 'frontier' or the 'west' is incomplete without a wagon wheel.
The wheel is constructed of a hub from which spokes protrude and which are held in place by a rim. The hub is formed like a barrel from a number of wooden staves positioned around an iron cylinder, and bound together with iron bands. (One end of the wagon's axle would be inserted into the cylinder.) Wooden spokes were then inserted into the hub, into spaces interspersed among the staves. A rim formed of bent wood was attached to the outer ends of the spokes, and finally an iron band was fitted onto the outer surface of the rim.
This particular wagon wheel is the large wheel normally positioned at the rear of the wagon. The other wheel exhibited in this gallery is the smaller one positioned at the front of the wagon.
The three wheels in my collection were a gift from 'the Moyer brothers'. The Moyers lived across the hill from my parents, in the valley at the head of Poplar Run. Two brothers and their sister never married. They lived together on the old Moyer farmstead and made their living by farming and huckstering. My father knew them for a long time. So when, during my teenage years, I got the desire to own a wagon wheel, dad took me over to the Moyer farm to see if they would sell me a wheel. He figured if anyone had an old wagon wheel lying around, it would be the Moyer brothers. They did indeed have a number of old wagon wheels in their old barn, but they said that they wouldn't sell me any ~ instead they insisted on giving me a couple for free. They gave me this one large wheel and two identical smaller ones.