Stagecoach Travel

Talk about alternate travel options the stagecoach was just the way to do just that before the advent of railway transport (and everything which followed). For those trivia buffs, the term “stage” in the name of the mode of travel refers to the distance between stations along a route with the coach traveling in “stages” to get to its ultimate destination. But the history of the stagecoach in the United States dates back to 1744 when the first one was used in New England to carry passengers between the region’s cities and towns. Eventually overland stages followed which encompassed continuous travel for up to 22 days through all types of weather conditions with only brief stops at weigh stations. Because these conditions were so rugged and cramped Wells Fargo had to post a set of rules to enforce passenger behavior, and they are indeed quite interesting: Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the gentler sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort in cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses. In the event of runaway horses remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes. Forbidden topics of conversation are: stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.As often depicted in western movies, a real and eminent threat to stagecoach travel was robbery by highwaymen or bandits as well as Indian attack, the worst of which occurred in the New Mexico Territory in 1861.The closing chapter in the use of stagecoaches as a mode of transportation took place when the road to Young, Arizona was paved and the stagecoach was replaced with a motorcar made by Ford.

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