STAGECOACH OF THE OLD WEST
In the old days of the West, the only mode of public transportation was the stagecoach. Though on May 10, 1869 the famous "Golden Spike" was driven in Promontory Summit, Utah, and the track complete for America's first transcontinental railroad, the stagecoach would endure until after the turn of the century, replaced then by the automobile.
The stagecoach was used extensively in the old west due to its rugged design. The original basic model had a twelve foot wheel base and weighed in the vicinity of 2100 pounds. The coach itself rode on twin thorough braces made out of rawhide strips which made a 3 inch thick leather spring. The door window was glazed but the side windows were unglazed. Canvas or leather curtains hung above each window which could be rolled down during bad weather.
Journeys by stagecoach were long, dusty, and hard. Coaches were usually cramped and loaded down with heavy merchandise and luggage; passengers jammed in like sardines. It was not unusual for as many as twelve to fifteen people to be aboard at one time, some riding up front with the driver and atop the luggage. It took bold men as drivers, to get the stagecoach to the station on time. Riding by his side or on top of the coach was the shotgun guard always ready to protect the mail cargo delivery or precious Wells Fargo box from outlaws.