Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/05/25
New 'Monitor' stage goes into service, designed to service valuable express
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
A new "iron clad" treasure coach is in service on the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage line. The new coach, called "The Monitor" was built by A.D. Butler of Cheyenne. It is designed purely for carrying of treasure and other valuable express.
Butler lined the interior of a regular Concord coach with steel plates five-sixteenths of an inch in thickness. A test conducted on the plates showed that they were capable of withstanding any rifle bullet. The contents of the heaviest charged rifles fired at the plate from a distance of only 50 feet had no effect.
The roof of the coach is not lined with metal, because of the excessive weight involved. There are two port holes in the doors of the coach to permit the passengers within to get the "dead wood" on any and all road agents.
Prior to the construction of the "Monitor" the regular "treasure coaches" were regular Concord coaches which carried either wooden or iron treasure boxes. last summer the specially built chilled steel safe, "the salamander" was put into use.
This safe which carried so much treasure out of the Hills last fall has been installed in the Monitor. It is fastened to the floor with heavy iron bolts.
The Monitor has been built because the owners of the stage line, Gilmer, Salisbury and Patrick, anticipated that with new large mining developments in the Black Hills there would be a large increase in gold shipments.
Even though stage line superintendent Voorhees had actively lead a campaign that resulted in 15 of the principle road agents that preyed on the stage line last summer being captured, he and the owners are sure that road agents will again swarm along the route as summer comes on.
Voorhees has ordered that no passengers will be allowed to ride on the new treasure coach because of the danger of attacks by road agents. The stage line is also planning to have a second "iron clad" treasure coach in service by late summer.
Wiliam M. Ward, superintendent of the northern division of the stage line (Fort Laramie to Deadwood City), is pleased to see the new iron clad coach put into service. He also anticipates that it will help prevent robberies of the gold shipments.
Ward is familiar with this country and knows its dangers. He and Jim May built the short-cut road from here to Jenny Stockade last summer. Ward was one of the first Cheyenne businessmen to promote a stage line to the Black Hills. He had worked closely with George Homan Jr. of Omaha, on the proposed establishment of such a stage line in 1875.
(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)