Stage, mail, express coach line being established at Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
H.E. "Stuttering" Brown has been in the area making the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage, Mail and Express Line. He has been busy locating and stocking stations north of Fort Laramie with hay, grain, horses and equipment.
Brown, acting as agent for Gilmer, Salisbury and Patrick, negotiated the purchase of the line from F. D Yates & Co. on Feb. 12th. Luke Voorhees arrived shortly as superintendent of the new stage line. Brown was then assigned as superintendent of the danger-fraught division north of Fort Laramie under Voorhees.
When the new owners took over the line it was routed through the Red Cloud agency (Fort Robinson) and then north through Red Canyon to Custer City. They soon announced plans to run a daily line of Concord coaches between Cheyenne and Custer City over a direct route north from Fort Laramie by the way of Hat Creek station on Sage Creek.
Gilmer, Salisbury and Patrick were widely known stage owners in Utah, Idaho and Montana. John (Jack) T. Gilmer, the senior partner of the firm, was one of the most experienced stage men in the entire west. He had skinned mules and whacked bulls for the great firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell, as he expressed it, "had turned the first wheel of the Wells, Fargo Coach line across the plains, and the last."
He and Salisbury had purchased the stage line from Ogden, Utah to Helena, Mont., from Wells, Fargo & Co. in 1869.
Luke Voorhees was an experienced frontiersman, who had followed the gold rushes in Colorado and was the discoverer of gold on Kootenai River in British Columbia. As superintendent of the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage company, he had full authority to locate the most practical route, to establish necessary stage stations, and to equip the line fully. He also was entrusted with the full responsibility fo the safety of passengers, the safe delivery of gold bullion, and the safeguarding of the company's property.
Voorhees immediately bought enough horses and mules and wagons to keep a tri-weekly line moving to Red Cloud, while he was lining up equipment for the through-line north of Fort Laramie. He acquired freight wagons, buckboards and spring wagons. In the parlance of stage men anything that carried the mail, express, and passengers was called a "stage," whether it was a buckboard or a "jerky," a "mud wagon" with a canvas top and roller curtains, or a wagon box on runners. Since Voorhees knew from experience that Concord coaches were fashioned for hard service and would stand up regardless of climatic conditions, he planned ultimately to stock the entire line with them.
(Information Source: Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage & Express Routes by Agnes Wright Spring)