Stage owners visit Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
A new mail contract from Hat Creek to Spearfish City Dakota Territory has been awarded to Luke Voorhees. The new route will skirt the Black Hills on the west side and reach Spearfish City by way of Sundance Mountain. The contract calls for the mail to be carried over this route and back once a week, a distance of 150 miles each way.
This new contract will replace the weekly "swing run" from Raw Hide Buttes to Buckhorn (northeast of Newcastle), which has delivered mail to Hat Creek for the last year. Voorhees also held the "swing run" contract besides the daily mail from Cheyenne to Raw Hide Buttes.
Earnest A. Logan has been carrying the mail from Raw Hide Buttes to Hat Creek and Buckhorn. He often carried it on horseback, sometimes in a buckboard. Voorhees tried to induce Logan to take over the new contract north from Hat Creek, however he could not see his way clear to do so.
Logan has decided to drive the route from Raw Hide to Fort Laramie. Logan has talked "horse poor" O.J. Demmon of the Silver Springs Ranch into taking over the mail contract.
Demmon has a corral full of unbroken horses that are eating up feed and bringing in nothing. With the help of two of his older boys, Demmon plans to break the horses while carrying the mail and passengers. There will be a ready market for the broken horses with all of the prospectors who are coming in with the mining rush to nearby Muskrat Canyon.
Voorhees, superintendent of the Cheyenne and Black Hills route, also operates the Wyoming Stage route from Deadwood to Fort Pierre and Sidney and several other stage routes and mail contracts. He also purchased a herd of 1,300 head of cattle last fall from George Hill and Company on Raw Hide Creek. The cattle were branded 918, 96 or NP, they will now be branded with the LZ brand of the newly formed Luke Voorhees Cattle Company with a capitalization of $500,000.
Gilmer and Salisbury, owners of the stage routes are establishing a four-horse Concord stage line to run from the Northern Pacific railroad to Helena, Mont., Territory via Bozeman. This will allow the railway to form a through connection from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Helena.
As soon as this route is completed they plan to close down the Sidney, Neb., route. This will once again leave the Cheyenne route as the chief southern entrance to the Hills.
(Information source: "All Roads Lead to Deadwood," by Irma H. Klock; "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)