Passenger service advances at Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Freight Company has just issued a report of their activities for the period from April 1 to Nov. 30, 1876. During this time the passenger service has advanced from taking weeks in a rough-riding freight wagon to make the trip from Cheyenne to Custer, now it is just a two or three day trip to go all of the way to Deadwood in a hand decorated, cushioned Concord Coach built by Abbot and Downing.
During the last eight months the company had carried 864 passengers from Cheyenne to Fort Laramie and 556 all the way to Custer or Deadwood in its coaches. There were also many passengers who accompanied the stage company's freight and express wagons during times when Indian troubles disrupted regular coach service. There freight and express wagons had transported about 40 million pounds of supplies for the miners and mining activities over this same period.
Buffalo Bill Cody has been a frequent passenger on the coaches stopping here at Hat Creek for the last few months. He is a personal friends of the stageline superintendent, Luke Voorhees. They had met 19 years before when Voorhees was on his first buffalo hunt and had stopped for a meal at the Cody farm on Salt Creek in Kansas. (Note: It was through his friendship with Voorhees that Buffalo Bill, in 1883, obtained one of the Concord coaches from the Deadwood run to use in his wild west show. In Europe many members of the royal families were transported in this coach.)
Army officers and soldiers were also regular passengers on the stage. One of the most famous was General Crook, who with some of his men, had reached Deadwood after an ill-fated summer campaign in the Powder River country. They were very happy to get to deadwood when they did for they had suffered many severe hardships and had subsisted on nothing but horse meat for the prior week.
Another interesting military group stopping here on their stage trip was General Phil Sheridan and his party. They were escorting M. Notu, commander-in-chief of the royal army of Japan and two of his top generals, Y. Fukushima and S. Tashoro. This party of Japanese officers had been taken on tours of our Forts and Indian agencies in the area. From here they returned to Cheyenne to "still further investigate the workings of our military system before returning to their native land."
(Information source: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes, by Agnes Wright Spring.)