From the Blog
The American Stagecoach
The American stagecoach is one of the most iconic images of conjuring up ideas of the Wild-West in the 1800’s. Vast plains were conquered by these incredible carriages and their valiant drivers, pulled by a team of big and strong horses.
Stagecoaches got their name from England, where the forefathers of American stagecoaches traveled in stages from one place to another. In America there was no alternative to travel across the vast plains of the west as the steam locomotive had not been invented, and not everybody could ride a horse such distances.
The Beast of Burden
The stagecoach was not just a means of transportation, as well as passengers the stage would also carry news, the mail, important supplies, and in some cases money. The stage was basically a beast of burden and many people relied on it to keep in touch with family and friends. In many small frontier towns the stage arriving was the most important event of the week or month. The best known company known for operating stagecoaches across the west of America was, Wells Fargo.
The stagecoach represents the unique role that Wells Fargo had in American history. The red and gold livery of a Wells Fargo stage is famous across the world and became a symbol of modernity and civilization. In the mid 1800’s transportation to the Pacific coast of America was limited to the sea, and even though there were some railways being built at his time they ended at the Mississippi River.
To try and undertake the journey over land was to say the least an epic adventure, and the Wells Fargo Stage was about the only way you could do it. Soon Wells Fargo and other stagecoach operators formed the Overland Mail Company that ran between San Francisco and St. Louis twice a week.
The Overland Mail Company
For years before the Overland Mail Company was formed, independent operators had dreamed of such an efficient and necessary service in the West. And the next evolution was to connect a service from coast to coast which took an incredible twenty five days from start to finish.
The first service started in 1858 and the route traveled southwest from Texas to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco. This journey took twenty four days and the stage traveled both day and night. It is incredible to think of traveling such distance on roads which were little more than dirt tracks for most of the time.
The 1959 Silver Strikes
The great Silver Strikes of 1959 placed a big demand on the stagecoach operators to provide transportation between the great states of Nevada and California. By 1864 a company called The Pioneer Stage Company opened up a route, and managed a service that ran four times daily between the two states.
Each of these stages were crowded with passengers on the way out, and normally the return stages were loaded with silver bullion and the few prospectors that were returning home rich after making their fortunes. There is no doubt that the stagecoach forged this part of America in the mid-19th Century, and it will forever be an iconic mode of American transportation.