How to set up minecarts and cart-hauling in Dwarf Fortress

Okay, so the analytics tell me that a lot of you are coming to the site searching for some pointers or examples on how to set up minecarts and cart-hauling in the new version of Dwarf Fortress. So, let’s take a look at Dwarf Fortress’ new hauling menu, and I’ll talk about how to set up a simple hauling route. It’s pretty awesome, but it isn’t all that intuitive.

We’ll walk through a simple example which should get you enough of an idea to proceed on your own.

Let’s deal with stone blocks for our example.

You’ll need one minecart (any material will do. Wood will be fine). Start one building over at your carpenter’s workshop.

Use d for designate and T for “carve track”. Our track will be a simple straight line, for now. Mark it out with one end adjacent to a reasonably large bars/blocks stockpile.

You’ll be running it North/South or East/West. It doesn’t matter which, but for this, I’ll assume the track is horizontal (East/West) with the bars/blocks stockpile near the East end.

Once your dwarfs have finished carving the track, place another bars/blocks stockpile (even just one square will be large enough) next to the West end of the track. Next to that stockpile, place a mason’s workshop.

Now, press q and go over to the settings of that stockpile. Press t for “Take from a Pile/Workshop” and then select the mason’s workshop. Press s and forbid everything except stone blocks. Now this stockpile will get any stone blocks that this mason’s workshop produces.

So far, so good.

Now we’re going to set up a route – assuming your dwarfs have finished carving the track. If not, wait until they’re done.

Okay, now. Press h to get to the new hauling interface.

We have no routes yet, so we’ll press r to set up a new route.

That creates “Route 1”. We’ll use n to give it a nickname “stone blocks” so that it will not get lost in the welter of other routes you’ll doubtless want to create.

Move the cursor over the West end of the track adjacent to the workshop’s tiny stockpile. Then press s to create a new stop. That’s “Stop 1”. You can give this a nickname too, if you like.

Now, move the cursor over to the East end where the big stockpile is. Press s again. That’s “Stop 2”.

You’ll likely notice a yellow exclamation mark appears next to one or both stops. There are some default rules get created when you define a stop and those default rules don’t yet work with our route. Now we’re going to fix that.

Press the key to highlight Stop 1 again. Now we’ll edit its rules. Press Enter.

This is the stop management interface. You should see three rules:

  • Guide north immediately when full of desired items
  • Guide north in 14 days when at least 50% of desire
  • Guide north in 28 days always

First up, let’s get rid of the second two rules. Highlight them (using + or ) and then press x to delete a rule. That leaves us with “guide north immediately when full of desired items”

Now North is the wrong direction for starters. We want the cart to go East to Stop 2. Press d as many times as you need to change the direction to East.

Got that? It should now read “Guide east immediately when full of desired items”.

What are the desired items? Let’s tell it. Press Enter (for “set desired items”) and enable Bars/Blocks > Blocks: Stone/Clay.

Press Escape once you’ve done that to return to the stop management interface.

Now, where will we get the blocks from? From the tiny stockpile next to Stop 1. Press s for “new stockpile link”. That creates an additional rule/condition “Take from (Select Stockpile)”.

Move the cursor over the tiny stockpile and press p for “select stockpile” to tell it which stockpile we want it to take from.

Okay. Now Stop 1 loads stone blocks from the little stockpile, which gets them from the Mason’s workshop.

Press Escape to go back to the route interface, and highlight Stop 2. Then press Enter.

Now we’re going to arrange to empty the cart and send it back to Stop 1.

Remove the second and third rules, until you’re left with “Guide north immediately when full of desired item”.

Change the direction to West with the d key.

Press c until the rule reads “Guide west immediately when empty of any items”.

Now, when the minecart is empty, a dwarf will guide it West back to Stop 1. The route is no longer broken (since the minecart now has rules that take it around all the stops over and over) but we still have to set up to actually empty it.

Press s again to create a stockpile link for this stop.

Move the cursor over the big bars/blocks stockpile next to Stop 2, then press p.

Now press t to switch from “taking” to “giving”.

That should be all you have to do. When you’re giving items to a stockpile the “Set desired items” option lists what you want to keep on the cart. We want to keep nothing, so we don’t list any stuff.

Now we’re almost done. Press Escape to go back to the routing interface.

We need to assign a minecart.

Press v for “Assign Vehicle” and select a minecart (I told you you needed one).

Once you have, the vehicle will be assigned to Stop 1 and a dwarf will haul it there shortly.

Press Escape again, and let the simulation run. Set the workshop making infinite quantities of stone blocks.

Periodically you can press h to check the route. A yellow “V” will display at whatever stop the vehicle is at, and you’ll see a percentage value in white telling you how much of the cart’s capacity is currently occupied. This information can help you debug a route that seems to be stuck.

As your dwarfs make stone blocks, they’ll be loaded onto the cart. I’m not sure just how many blocks one cart holds, but it is a lot. 20 or 30 perhaps. I haven’t counted.

When the cart is finally full, a dwarf will guide it to Stop 2, and someone will be assigned to unload all of those blocks. When the cart is finally empty, a dwarf will be tasked to guide it back to Stop 1 where it will wait until it is full.


Is the cart seemingly stuck at Stop 1? It’s probably not full yet. Check. Double-check that the stockpile at Stop 1 is getting blocks from the workshop (and that a dwarf is actually making them). Check that Stop 1 is set to take from a stockpile and that it is taking from the right one. Make sure that the “desired goods” includes the stone blocks.

Remember the cart holds a lot. It may take a while to fill up. You only need to be concerned if it continues to sit there at zero percent.

Is the cart seemingly stuck at Stop 2? Check that stone blocks aren’t listed as Stop 2’s desired goods (or they won’t be unloaded). Make sure that it is linked to the adjacent stockpile, that the stockpile is set to accept the goods, and that Stop 2 is set to give the goods to it. (Update: Also, the cart will stop unloading if the stockpile it is unloading to is full – Thanks to Thistleknot for indirectly reminding me about that)

Also dwarfs may be busy with other tasks that loading or unloading your carts, if your fortress is very busy. Give them a little time to catch up.

Final thoughts

Carts are awesome. I’m looking forward to playing with them some more.

4 thoughts on “How to set up minecarts and cart-hauling in Dwarf Fortress”

    1. EDIT: I ran across another issue that could prevent the mine-carts from emptying. If say you have a stop that picks up gold ore and drops it off at the next stop, and say limestone is in the cart from previous usage… the cart will never move, so you would have to allow the stops to accept limestone (only temporarily) to empty the carts so that they can be filled with gold ore again, then disallow limestone to prevent it from happening again. (this is after a day of absolute confusion as to why my carts are not moving…)

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