Stage line making progress
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
(late February 1876) H.E. (Stuttering") Brown is still in the area making arrangements to use Dear's road ranche for a stage stop on the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage, Mail and Express Line. He brings word that Voorhees will have a few Concord coaches arriving from Gilmer and Salisburys stageline out of Ogden, Utah in March. These coaches were built by Abbot and Downing of Concord, N.H. In the meantime they have telegraphed orders to make 30 new coaches and ship them "with all haste" to Cheyenne. He ordered 600 sets of harness from James R. Hill and Co. also of Concord, N.H., internationally known harness and saddle makers.
The first shipment of new coaches and harness including "spare parts" for repairing the coaches, hubs, spokes and thorough braces would reach Cheyenne from New Hampshire within six weeks.
Concords, with their bodies suspended on leather thorough braces, made of many folds of leather straps, were capable of swinging up and down over deep ruts and rocks without injury to passenger. The running gears of each coach were painted yellow and the body, a rich red. Ornamental paintings on the doors and parts of the body (chiefy landscapes, each different), were the work of J. Burghum, a skilled artisan of Abbot and Downing. The intricate scroll work on each coach was done by Charles Knowlton. Each coach bore a name, such as, "The Deadwood."
Inside of each coach were three cushioned seats, capable of accommodating nine passengers. There was room on the front "boot" for two more, in addition to the driver. On the top were two seats that would hold from six to nine more passengers. The front one on top was called the "dickey seat." The rear top was the "China seat," so-called because to it were assigned the pig-tailed Orientals.
Almost fourteen steer hides were required in the making of thoroughbraces and the two "boots" on each coach. These boots, triangular cargo holds, one at the rear and one under the driver's seat, accommodated mail bags, express, and baggage. Heavy trunks were strapped to the rear boot, or carried on top. On the Cheyenne-Black Hills line the driver's seat was commonly referred to as "the boot," rather than "the box."
In a Concord coach a superior quality of white ash was used for body frame, felloes, pole, perches, and axle beds; bass wood for panels and roof; white oak for spokes; and elm or black cherry for hubs. The hand-hewn spokes were fitted into the rim with master joinery and thus were durable and capable of standing up under very hard wear.
Because of the weight involved, very little iron was used in the making of a Concord coach, but that which was necessary was of the best Norway stock obtainable, and was much stronger than the metal ordinarily used in coach making.
In those hectic first weeks of early spring in 1876, travel increased so rapidly that the northbound stage out of Cheyenne to Fort Laramie simply could not accocmmodate all who wanted to go. Voorhees realized that as soon as he made the announcement that the stage line was in full operation, there would be a mad rush for transportation from every direction.
With men arriving from almost every corner of the globe, Gilmer, Salisbury and Patrick declared their intention of investing one hundred thousand dollars in their new line and made plans to operate on an extensive scale.
They are making arrangements with the railway companies to sell "though tickets" from all points in the "states" to Custer City, via Cheyenne, over the Cheyenne and Black Hills stage line."
(Information Source: Cheyenne Black Hills Stage and Express Route by Agnes Wright Spring)