Taking Inventory: Minecart

It’s all downhill from here

For a game about mining, I suppose it’s kinda weird that we don’t spend very much time using our item of the week – the minecart. They’re fun to ride around rollercoaster-like tracks on. But I don’t think I know any players that use them for their supposed purpose: trucking dirt, stone and ore up to the surface.

That’s okay! Minecraft has always been a game where players make their own fun with the tools available to them. So what if people would rather make rollercoasters out of minecarts than fill them full of dirt? The most important thing is that everyone’s having a great time. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Minecarts were added to Minecraft during the game’s Infdev phase, on 18 June 2010. Originally they were used solely for storage - they acted like a chest. But less than a week later that decision was reversed and they became rideable. Over time, new features were added – furnace and storage minecarts, TNT and hopper minecarts, and even minecarts with command blocks. 

Making a minecart is simple. Put five iron ingots in a U-shape in a crafting grid. To make one of the minecart variants, just combine a regular minecart with a chest, furnace, hopper or block of TNT. Once you’ve got one, place it on a set of rails to spawn it in the world.

From there, it’s up to you. You’ll probably want some method of propulsion – most likely a powered rail or furnace minecart. You can get in an empty minecart by hitting use, and exit by pressing sneak. You’ll find it’s easy to go downhill, but hard to go uphill again. Experiment with different solutions to that problem to find the best!

In the real world, the first minecarts were made of wood and widely used in the 1500s to transport ore out of mines in Europe. They were pulled by men and animals, and didn’t run on a real “rail” but instead just used normal flat wheels on a plankway that flattened out rough ground.

Over time, technology improved and people wanted to get more stuff out of the ground, they  began to resemble Minecraft’s minecarts more closely. They got larger, began to use more modern rail systems, and could be pulled by electric or diesel locomotives. They were used not only to get materials out of a mine, but also to carry workers in.

Minecarts aren’t actually used much for their traditional purpose any more. They’ve been largely replaced in commercial mines by more efficient conveyor belt systems. Instead, the most active minecarts can nowadays be found in theme parks - in rides like Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain runaway mine train

Guess it turns out that Minecraft is more accurate than any of us realised!

Written by
Duncan Geere
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