Today, we can get around the world in hours. We take for granted that if we want to visit our friends or family anywhere in our country or around the world, we just have to hop in our car and drive a few hours to get to them. Or we can get on a plane and fly there in an even shorter amount of time. But what was it like in 1880 before cars had been invented and the first working plane was another 13 years in the coming?
I found out while doing some research for my fifth novel, The Solid Rock (due out Spring 2016). I’ll share a few of them with you.
By horse, the most you could go without killing the animal is 50 miles, and that’s only on flat ground with a really good horse. In normal conditions, 20-40 miles per day was the limit. A wagon would be even less since the oxen would be pulling all your belongings and most, if not all, of your family. By train you could go up to 50 miles per hour!
In The Solid Rock, my main character, Joshua, travels from Chicago, Illinois to Cheyenne, Wyoming. At first, I was going to have him ride his horse the whole way there. Then I found out how many miles there were between the two cities and how many miles a horse can go. If I had him ride his horse, the man he went to rescue would probably be dead before he got there.
Later in the book, he pushes his horses hard and goes from Castle City, Montana (a ghost town about 60 miles east and a little south of Helena or about fifteen miles north of Ringling) to Cheyenne. He brought more than one horse so he could keep riding even when one of the horses started to get tired. I also found a great map of railroads online and used that to get him from Castle City to Caspar, Wyoming where they could hop on a train directly to Cheyenne. The map is a little confusing, especially since it doesn’t have a lot of the city names on it, but I figured some of them out. Enough to make it workable.
Research can sometimes be tedious, but you can also find out some fun things that are only relevant in your books, but can sometimes be fun to tell others as trivia items. Here are some fun facts I learned while researching The Solid Rock (they may or may not have to do with transportation).
- Kate Warne was the first female Pinkerton Detective.
- Trains didn’t always go through what are now considered big towns.
- Horses can’t run fast for long periods of time like you see in the movies. (Wow! Movies are unrealistic? Who would’ve guessed that? [/end of sarcasm])
- Allen Pinkerton (the man who started the Pinkerton detectives) ran away from Ireland because he was a wanted man.
- Allen Pinkerton also married a young lady who was probably only about fourteen or fifteen, though she claimed to be seventeen.
Thanks for hosting me today. I really appreciate being able to be a guest blogger on the Petticoats and Pistols blog. I’m looking forward to the conversations we can have in the comments. I won’t bore you with a summary of each of my books. You can find out all the details about my three novels and three novellas on my website: http://www.faithblum.com. If you are interested in learning about my new releases, I have a newsletter signup form which you can find here: http://www.faithblum.com/new-releases.html.
One of my novellas, Pass Me Not, is free until Sunday, so feel free to pick up your ecopy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B010B4BGT8.
Timothy is at his wit’s end. His twelve year old half-sister has run off five housekeepers in almost a year. Since their parents died, she has grown wilder than ever. What can he do? As he looks for a new housekeeper, his eye catches sight of a mail order bride advertisement. One young lady has a younger sister and sounds like a God-fearing woman. Could this be the answer to his dilemma or will Louise run her off, too?
I am also giving away an ebook of any of my novels or novellas currently available to two people who comment below. What is your favorite mode of transportation? Did it surprise you how long it took to get places in the 1880s? Do you have any questions about my books?
Faith Blum is a 24 year old home school graduate who enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, and playing piano. Her favorite genre to read and write is Historical Fiction, more specifically, Westerns. In the Hymns of the West series, she has endeavored to create clean, fun, and challenging Western stories for the whole family. She currently has three novels and three novellas published. You can find her in various places online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Amazon
13 thoughts on “TRANSPORTATION IN THE 1880’S by Faith Blum”
We have gotten so used to going from here to there in minutes or hours. I am not sure many of us would survive a trip from one town to another that took a day. A trip from my home town to my husbands would have taken 1/2 day! Glad I do not have to depend on horses today!
Thanks for stopping by, Connie! That is so true! I am glad of that as well.
Travel was a huge event back then. It’s hard to imagine how long it would take to go from one place to the next when today it’s only a matter of hours.
That’s what I thought when I started researching.
I know I would have liked taking time to travel. A day to get here or a day to get there. Now a days everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. Thanks for the enlightened info.
Amen! I wouldn’t mind staying home more. I wouldn’t even mind the longer trips, I don’t think. Especially if I grew up with them.
Welcome to the Junction, Faith! We’re so happy to have you as a guest. I love your blog. Transportation was such a huge problem in the early days of the old West. None were pleasant. Each mode had its drawbacks. I’m glad for cars and airplanes!!
Wishing you much success with your stories and your career!
Thank you, Linda! I’m glad to be here and hope I can join you again in the future. 🙂
Welcome, Faith! I loved reading your blog. What a lot of interesting research you’ve had to do. As someone who absolutely loves to travel, I too am thankful for all the fast modes of transport we have today. 🙂
Thank you, Jane! So am I. 🙂
I try to like public transportation, but I really prefer my own car. Probably because of years of long commute. At least I was in my comfort zone.
Interesting post. Travel is difficult enough now, I’m glad I didn’t have to ride a horse for my 150 mile round trip commute!
Thanks for the free novella and the giveaway. Your books look like my kind of stories.
Hi, Sally! I prefer my own car as well. Where I live, we can’t use public transportation since it’s too far away. 🙂
150 miles round trip would probably be about 2 days there and 2 days back. Plus the time spent there. 😀 Wow!
You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy the free novella!
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