Charles Goodnight, co-founder of the Goodnight/Loving Trail is credited with inventing the chuck wagon in 1866. It was basically a reinforced wagon with a chuck box fitted to the rear of the wagon in order to safely transport food across the prairie. So common did Goodnight's design become that he was often referred to as Chuck Goodnight.
The chuck box at the rear if the wagon was a pantry like box which contained many drawers and cubbyholes which were used to store cooking utensils, medicines and foodstuffs such as sugar,coffee beans, pinto beans, flour and dried fruit. There was a hinged lid that secured the drawers while in transit and when the wagon was stationary it would swing out to become a worktable for the cook to labour upon.
There would be wooden bows over the chuck box over which was draped a canvas cover to protect the contents from the elements. Beneath the chuck box there was often a rawhide hammock known as a coony, which was used for storing fuels needed to burn a good fire - cow and buffalo chips, dry firewood.
A standard four wheel chuck wagon could carry 2 tons of food, water and supplies. Goodnigh used six oxen to pull the chuck wagon although teams of horses and mules were often used.