First wagon train left Independence, Missouri, for California in 1841. The wagon train reached its destination November 4, 1841. Most wagon trains left in the spring, because it took four or five months to reach their destination. The trains did not want to be isolated in the mountains during winter. The trains, perhaps as much as one hundred wagons long, traveled about fifteen to twenty miles a day. The wagons were called prairie schooners because their white tops looked like billowing sails. Idea: Children could view copies of Russell Freedman’s Children of the Wild West.