Hat Creek Dateline: 1877/03/24
Spring rush has begun
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The spring rush to the Black Hills has begun. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Company arrived here with 168 passengers this evening. They will spend the night here, before starting across the most hazardous portion of their journey to the Black Hills. They are being transported in several six-horse Concord coaches plus additional fast freight wagons. The coaches are each carrying 18 passengers, each with their 50 pounds of baggage allowed on a first class ticket.
The stage company has been promoting its service by advertising that it has "fast horses, easy coaches, first class eating stations and division agents who take all pains to secure the comfort of passengers." They also emphasize that Fort Laramie, Camp Hat Creek, and Camp Collier, all being on the route insures everyone's safety. These military camps leave the road well protected since there is not over 45 miles of road between any of them.
Superintendent Voorhees has even found it necessary to insert a notice in the Cheyenne papers in order to stop a rumor to the effect that the stages were all booked full for at least two weeks. He assured the public that the company was fully prepared to "carry all who wish to go to the Hills at once."
Many parties of travelers have been collecting in Cheyenne over the winter. Most of them have been going through in the last couple of weeks. There was one group of 75 from Kansas City, Mo., and also a large party from Connecticut. More than 100 had collected from Maine, they are planning to build their own city in the Hills. Another party of 70 Black Hillers all came from Shenandoah, Penn., they were each armed with a Winchester, 100 pounds of ammunition, knives and much more camping equipment.
A large number of "unmarried females" also came through on their way to the Black Hills a few days ago. Many of them were in the employment of a dance hall operator by the name of Al Swearenger.
Keeping all of the wagons and coaches well-repaired and in operating shape is still a daily task. Many horses have to be fed and kept shod; their harnesses must also be regularly cleaned, oiled, and repaired. The weather in this country is often an obstacle to overcome with ever-changing winds, rains, snow storms, and extremes of temperature. All of these constant problems, in addition to the vast increase in travelers this spring, as Superintendent Voorhees had anticipated, is almost overwhelming for all of the stations along the route.
(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and express Routes, by Agnes Wright Spring.")