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Travel by Stagecoach

by Candice Helgeson, Museum Manager, Wells Fargo History Museum on

Travel by Stagecoach     

As the cold settles in this winter season, I find myself looking back over the years of stagecoach travel and considering the forces of nature those travelers were faced with. Imagine being a traveler moving from the West coast to the East coast. Having to cross over the Rocky Mountains during some of the coldest of days, with no heat to assure your warmth!

Stagecoach travelers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries faced tough decisions when it came to packing for their adventure west. Sometimes, a stagecoach carried as many as 18 people, 9 inside and 9 outside. There were no windows, heat, or air conditioning. Everyone, especially those riding outside, had to consider the weather. Stagecoach drivers or passengers riding atop the coach needed more protection from the weather. Heavy furs and wool clothing could protect them from the harsh winter weather in the Rocky Mountains, but what would they wear in the summer? Passengers were allowed to carry only about 20 pounds of luggage (20 pounds weighs about as much as two gallons of water). They had to decide what items were necessary– like clothing, food, toothbrush—and what items had to be left behind.

 

Courtesy of Wells Fargo Archives

Courtesy of Wells Fargo Archives

Imagine you are traveling by stagecoach. What would you bring, and what would you leave behind?

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