A Brief Look at Stagecoaches

Stagecoaches figure prominently in the current book I’m working on so I thought it would be fun to look at some of my research.

 

In 1827 two wheelwrights, JS Abbott and Lewis Downing, formed the Abbott Downing Company in Concord, New Hampshire. They manufactured 40 different kinds of carriages and wagons but the most common and best known was called the Concord.

 

The Concord was the Cadillac of stagecoaches. Abbott and Downing installed three inch leather straps underneath called thoroughbraces that gave the coach a swinging motion instead of a jarring up and down ride. Mark Twain called them a cradle on wheels.

 

The Concord was built so solidly that breakdowns were rare. They simply wore out gracefully. The undercarriage was typically painted a bright yellow and the exterior was typically scarlet red or green. They came in 6, 9, or 12 passenger sizes and required either four or six horses to pull them.

 

FUN FACTS

 Average cost of a Concord stagecoach was around $1,650.

Average speed was 5-8 miles per hour

Stage stops were between 15 and 30 miles apart

The first 25 pounds of luggage was free.

Canvas or leather curtains above each window could be rolled down during bad weather

The Butterfield Overland Stage Co. had 250 Concord coaches, 1800 mules & horses and 600 employees

 

The second most common mode of transportation were the celerity or “mud” wagons. They were the work horses. Built on a Concord frame in a box style with open sides they had a canvas tarp covering that rolled up or down depending on the weather. They had a lower center of gravity and were pulled by a four horse team. These were commonly used for short hauls and/or mountainous routes. They were the bare bones of travel. Sometimes they were pulled by mules. Their wheels were three inches wide in comparison to the Concord’s two inch width wheels. Luggage was either strapped to the back or piled inside with the passengers. This was a no-frills way to travel.

 

Thank goodness we have comfortable cars, trains, airplanes and ships to travel on now. I’m sure people back in the frontier days would gladly have changed places if they’d had a chance.

What about you? Do you think travel by stagecoach would’ve been fun?

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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18 thoughts on “A Brief Look at Stagecoaches”

  1. Thanks for the great info, Linda. I’ve been working on a story that starts in a Mud Wagon, so your research is helpful. It must’ve been a miserable way to travel. But long airport delays, security patdowns, huge luggage charges, etc. are no fun either. And that’s before you get on the plane.
    You’ve seen versions of the movie “Stagecoach” I’m sure. Your blog makes me want to rent it again.
    Have a great day.

  2. Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m glad you can use my info. I’m sure your story will be fantastic. You always find the most interesting plots and characters that leap off the page. Yes, I’ve seen the movie “Stagecoach” but it’s been a while. I guess there’s hassles no matter which way you travel. But there’s something a little romantic and adventuresome about traveling by stage.

    Hope you have a great day!

  3. FUN?
    I suppose if you had nothing to compare it to….like a Chevy Impala with contour reclining bucket seats, shock absorbers, arms rests, lumbar support and heating and air conditioning settings so EACH PASSENGER CAN CONTROL THEIR OWN SETTINGS…God forbid I should have to endure the DRIVER’S idea of what cool and hot is!!!

    (Good grief could we be any bigger wimps!)

    BTW I love being comfortable. 🙂

  4. I’m with Mary…..being pulled across the country in a stagecoach would probably compare to my first ride across a cornfield in a farm wagon pulled by an OLD tractor. Once I lost my balance and bounced around on the bed of the wagon while my husband drove merrily along. Good thing no one else saw me for a few days as the bumps, bruises and scapes were many.

  5. Hi Mary……..thank you for pointing out that we’ve gotten too soft. I’m right there with you. While I think riding in a stagecoach might be something I’d enjoy, I would only want to do it for possibly an hour. That’s probably all I could handle and then I’d be hollering for my luxury vehicle. LOL I hate being covered with dust and having my teeth jarred out.

    Have a fun day whatever you do! Thanks for the laugh.

  6. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your post. I can’t imagine a worse way of traveling, unless it’s flying. Of course, you have less chance of being robbed or attacked by Indians in a plane; you just have to worry about being squeezed to death.

  7. Interesting information.
    Hey, I could have endured the ride if my traveling companion was a cowboy sitting across from me. One who had beautiful sparkling eyes, a deep voice, a look of confidence on his square-jawed face. What a challenge!

  8. Hi Connie J……….Ouch! It sounds like you had a very bumpy ride in that hay wagon. I’m sure more than one passenger fell off the seat of a stagecoach. That may be something I need to put in my book. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Have a great day!

  9. Hi Margaret………This blog reminds me of the video trailer you did for one of your books when your grandchildren were in the stagecoach. Hey, I wonder if, when we one day can take an excursion to a planet in outer space, the vehicle will be as crowded and unpleasant as today’s plane travel. If not at the first, then probably later on I would imagine. Early day planes seemed very comfortable as far as seating went.

    Hope your day brings lots of good things!

  10. Hi Joye……..thanks for stopping by. Glad you found my information on stagecoaches of interest. I was shocked to learn that it cost so much to purchase a stagecoach. That was a huge amount of money back in the 1800’s. Just amazing.

    I hope your day goes well!

  11. Another lovely thing about these Concords was they were top heavy. Ask any movie guy that drives one. They are death traps. It’s a wonder many didn’t tip over with all the stuff that was put on top and only a couple people inside, to even the weight. Plus no springs on the seats. OOOHHH the sore bottoms of the riders!
    Up where I live, a lot of Western Movies are still made and talking to the wranglers about this is really an eye opener. Especially when they have to go flat out running with a 6-up team. Scary. One rock or bump and over they go.

  12. Hi Mary J……….Thanks for stopping by. How interesting about the Concords being top heavy. I’d never heard that before. It’s sure a wonder more didn’t topple over than did. You’re lucky you live where you do. It would be such an experience to watch a western movie being made. I’d love it. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great day!

  13. Nope, sounds horribly uncomfortable but that’s looking back. I guess they thought it was better than riding horseback and there weren’t any other choices.

  14. Hi Linda, what a great post. I really enjoyed it. I have a story where my heroine and hero travel from Ft. Worth to the Texas Panhandle in a stagecoach. I love what Joye said, too. Who wouldn’t enjoy riding with a handsome cowboy, but I’m way too old and soft even for a luscious one. Since I’ve read your story about the stagecoach company, I can hardly wait to see it in print, because it’ll be a sure winner with your readers. Funny and sexy at the same time. A great combination. Thanks for a great blog, sister Filly. Hugs, P

  15. Hi Catslady………Thanks for commenting. One things about the pioneers. They didn’t complain too much about their lot in life. They were a whole lot better off than some of the previous generations. They simply accepted whatever came along and tried to make the best of it. And riding a stagecoach was better than walking. I guess you had to choose between a sore rear or sore feet. LOL

  16. Hi Phyliss………Glad you came by. I remember that scene in your Texas Treasure book where the heroine comes in Texas by way of stagecoach. Loved that scene. Thank you for the compliment about the story I’m working on. I hope it works. I’m having so much fun writing it. Tons of conflict between the H/H which is always a good thing. Stories without a lot of conflict tend to be a bit boring. Hoping you have a great day. I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow when you have your treatment. Love you, lady.

  17. Maybe a short ride would be ok but for me it takes me about five min. to get to a town near where I live and it would take about 30 min for the stagecoach. I think I would rather go by car.

  18. Wonderful blog about stagecoaches. I love to go to museums and see them.. The price astounds me. Sounds expensive. Wasn’t too long ago, you could get a decent/old car for that price!

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