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.
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?