could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Stage Coach Lines


I. Companies

A. Western Stage Company –

Beginning in September 1860

Mail from Omaha, by Wood River Center to Fort Kearney, once a week and back.
        North side of Platte to about Buda
        Crossed the Platte to Ft. Kearney
        Met Overland Stage from Atchison Kansas which went to the west coast

Believed to have been the first mail route established through Buffalo County.

Coaches made in Concord, New Hampshire by the Downing and Abbott Company.
        About 2,700 pounds and cost between $775 and $1,250.

By 1865 the Western Stage Line had been absorbed by the Overland Stage Line

“The post-office [at Ft. Kearny], built of sod--also "used as the first telegraph office at the fort--although small, was in the early '60's one of the most prominent of the few buildings of that character between the Missouri river and the Rockies.”

B. Kearney to Loup City Stage Line –

February, 1874, Nick Harris of Grand Island started a private stage line
        For travelers
        Was paid a bonus by Loup City and Kearney of $70 per month.
        Ran about six weeks
        Bought out by F. E. Rosseter, who conducted it until the bridges on the Sweetwater and
            other streams were washed away, when it was abandoned.

Mail route established in 1875 by Dryden & Andrews – 1877 - sold out to C. H. Finch
        Service from August 20, 1877, to June 30, 1886 – nine years nearly –
                and until shortly after the Union Pacific railroad spur was built.
McGee’s ranch on Beaver Creek at Sweetwater was one of the stops.
        It cost $2 to ride the stage from Kearney to the McGee Ranch.

C. Kearney and Black Hills Stage Line –

Formed in late winter and early spring of 1877.

Contract to carry mail from Kearney to Deadwood

C. W. Dake, president of a bank in Kearney & R. S. Downing, recently of Lowell

Promoters induced Treasurer Van Sickle to invest of county funds to build bridges and furnish
stage-line equipment

Laid out the route, established road ranches to provide supplies to the travelers

Armada was the first relay station out of Kearney where horses for the stagecoach were changed.

Financial loss,
        Van Sickle lost his job as County Treasurer
        Dake lost his bank.

D. Pioneer Stage Company –

Apparently operated the routes south

Made connections with stages going to towns in northern Kansas.

E. Belle Union – (Came later for 2 years)

From Kearney to Ravenna

March 1893 – Fitting up livery barn by old City Hotel on east 23rd St. to be called Belle Union

Probably closed sometime in 1895

II. Routes

A. 1883
        [Northwest up Wood River valley]
        From Kearney to Armada to Helena on Mondays and Thursdays.

B. 1884 -1885

1. Up Wood River valley to Helena & then Broken Bow, 2 days a week & then daily
2. To the Republican Valley
3. To Phelps, Holdrege & Northwest Kansas [as the towns were founded].
4. To Minden and return – daily except Sundays
5. To Loup City and all points in the Upper Loup Valley – daily

C. 1886

1. To Broken Bow – round trip up Wood River Valley - leaves 6 A. M. Arrives in Kearney 7 P.M.
2. To Holdrege – two different routes, alternate days
3. To Loup City – round trip - Leaves Kearney 7 A.M. Arrives in Kearney 6 P.M.
        Ended in June – railroad completed
4. To Republican Valley dropped
5. To Minden dropped
From Cedarville - Sherman Co.? – Riverview [Pleasanton] to Prairie Center & back twice a week.
“Mr. Jones’ stage line between Gibbon and Kearney proves to be a great accommodation to those live in Gibbon.”

D. 1894

Belle Union stage line Kearney to Ravenna
Stage driver reported a great deal of hail fell last night about five miles north of Kearney doing considerable damage.

Proprietor announced that for teachers attending institute, he would make an extra trip to Ravenna a week from Saturday. Anyone desiring passage on the stage on that date should leave orders as soon as possible at the Belle Union barn.

Plea for Preservation
April - Dear Editor: -- On the Connor lot, corner of Central & 24th is an old stagecoach which in Kearney’s early history was run between here and the Black Hills to carry passengers. It is now weather beaten and worn enough to be a relic, and as such should be preserved.
        Put it under cover and keep it. Every day it will be more and more interesting, and will be prized more and more by those who come after us, our children and grand children.
        When our young city reaches the one hundred thousand population so confidently predicted by that distinguished gentleman, Dr. Miller, of Omaha, the old coach will be brought out on public occasions and will be a relic worth seeing. Save it now when it can be done.

III. General Stagecoach information

A. Overland Stage –

1. Atchison through to Placerville, 1913 miles
        153 stations, averaging about 12 ½ miles apart.
        Fare through was $225--a fraction less than twelve cents a mile,….
2. Stations along the Platte 250 miles –
        Similar in appearance – built by the stage company
                Nearly square, one-story, hewn, cedar-log structures, of one to three rooms.
                If one room, often partitions of muslin separated kitchen from the dining-room and sleeping

                Roof of poles covered with willows, a layer of hay, then sod, & coarse gravel to keep the earth

                     from being blown off.
                Logs from cañons south of the Platte
        "Home" stations – Two or three times larger
                Sheds, outbuildings, and a number of other conveniences.
3. First sod buildings on the line were at Fort Kearney

B. Food on the Overland Route –

About 25 regular eating stations between Atchison and Denver.
Could get up a good meal on the shortest notice

1. Fried bacon and ham were a regular standby
Ample supply of buffalo, elk and antelope steaks in their season,

Cost –
        At east end 50¢
        Fort Kearney and Julesburg 75¢
        Denver $1 in 1863.

2. A few stations, however, were indescribably filthy

One passenger made discreditable remarks about the food, complaining that there was a good deal of dirt, etc.

         The landlord said, "Well, Sir, I was taught long ago that we must all eat a 'peck of dirt.'"
        "I am aware of that fact, my dear Sir," hastily responded the passenger,

            "but I don't like to eat mine all at once."

At another station one of the drivers frequently played sick
        he couldn't eat, he said, because of his weak stomach.
He had watched the landlady fondling the dogs and cats, and afterwards, without
        washing, thrusting her hands into the flour and mixing up the pan of biscuit.

3. West of Fort Kearney we for weeks had nothing in the pastry line except dried-apple pie.

This was copied and sent on its way east and west up and down the Platte:


I loathe! abhor! detest! despise!
Abominate dried-apple pies;
I like good bread; I like good meat,
Or anything that's good to eat;
But of all poor grub beneath the skies
The poorest is dried-apple pies.
Give me a toothache or sore eyes
in preference to such kind of pies.

The farmer takes his gnarliest fruit,
'Tis wormy, bitter, and hard, to boot;
They leave the hulls to make us cough,
And don't take half the peelings off;
Then on a dirty cord they're strung,
And from some chamber window hung;
And there they serve a roost for flies
Until they 're ready to make pies.
Tread on my corns, or tell me lies,
But don't pass to me dried-apple pies.

C. [From the Stagecoach file in the BCHS Archives]

“Tips for Stagecoach Travelers”

        The stagecoach was usually a “Concord Coach,” the vehicle was well-built and sturdy it could if necessary, carry eighgteen persons, nine clinging to the top and nine packed inside. The driver was known as “Whip, Charlie, or Jehu.” The guard, if there was one, was “Shotgun.” The following “tips for Stagecoach Travelers” were worth observing.
        The best seat inside the stage is the one next to the driver. Even if you have a tendency to seasickness when riding backwards – you’ll get over it and get less jolts and jostling.
        Don’t let a ‘sly elph’ trade you his mid-seat.
        In cold weather don’t ride with tight-fitting boots, shoes or gloves
        When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do so without grumbling. He won’t request it unless absolutely necessary.
        If the team runs away – sit still and take your chances. If you jump nine out of ten times you will get hurt.
        In very cold weather abstain entirely form liquor when on the road, because you will freeze twice as quickly under its influence.
        Don’t growl at the food received at the station; stage companies generally provide the best they can get.
        Don’t keep the stage waiting.
        If you have anything to drink in a bottle pass it around. Procure your stimulants before starting, as ‘ranch’ whiskey is not “nectar.”
        Don’t swear or lop over neighbors when sleeping. Take small change to pay expenses.
        Never shoot on the road as the noise might frighten the horses.
        Don’t point out where murders have been committed, especially if there are women passengers.
        Don’t lag at the wash basin.
        Don’t grease your hair because travel is dusty.
        Don’t imagine for a moment that you are going on a picnic. Expect annoyance, discomfort and some hardship.
        Don’t smoke a strong pipe inside the coach.
        Spit on the leeward side.



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Revised: 02/08/2018