Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/03/15

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 04/17/1991

Blizzard stops coach traffic, southbound through today
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

The first down (southbound) coach to come through in over a week arrived here today. the blizzard which started on March 7 and raged on for five days had all traffic at a standstill until today.

Francis E. Warren was among the passengers on the first down coach. Warren, from Cheyenne, had been detained by the blizzard in Deadwood City. He reported that the snow there was about five feet deep on the level. He started down on the first stage to leave after the snow stopped. Warren and the driver started in a sled, but had to abandon it in the deep drifts. They then tried to go on horseback and even had to give up that mode of travel.

At least they made it to Jemmy Stockade on foot and stayed there until the next coach came through. (Note: Warren was later Wyoming's governor and U.S. Senator.)

The blizzard has been one of the worst ever experienced in this part of the country. There was about 15 inches of snow on the level and many huge drifts. A number of herders and freighters caught out without shelter lost their lives or were badly frozen. Many cattle and sheep perished between Cheyenne and Fort Laramie.

Parshall, a freighter from Cheyenne, lost 92 of the 100 head of oxen in his freight teams which were hauling machinery for the Homestake Mine. Many, many of other horses, mules and oxen used by freighting outfits died from exposure or starvation all along the trail from Cheyenne to the Black Hills.

Reports from Cheyenne tell of guests at the Inter-Ocean Hotel walking out of second story windows on top of the drifts. There is one drift south of Cheyenne said to be a mile wide and 18 feet deep.

City Marshal Slaughter headed up a committee to dig out families marooned in their homes, and several store roofs have caved in. Union Pacific Railroad crews are busy trying to plow out their tracks. City Hall is full of snow and snow drifted two feet deep upon the floors of the officer's quarters at Fort Russell (Fort F.E. Warren).

On the third day of the storm, Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the stageline, sent mail north from Cheyenne to Deadwood City by "pony express". Mail from the southbound coach,which had reached Chugwater, was transported south also by horseback. The winter schedule for mail on the current contract calls for delivery from Cheyenne to Deadwood City within 107 hours without penalty.

On the fourth day of the storm a northbound coach load of passengers left Cheyenne.

Voorhees escorted it on horseback for the first five miles to make sure it had a good, safe start. Some two days later freighters had just arrived in from the north, reported that they had seen the coach "winding its way off the road among the snowdrifts," near the nine mile ranch.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Voorhees, Luke (11/29/1834 - 01/16/1925) View Record