The Abbott Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire built its first stagecoach in 1827. These coaches were used for passenger and mail service between St. Louis and San Francisco. Abbott produced coaches for both Wells Fargo and Butterfield Overland Stage companies.
Weighing over two tons, the coaches were solidly built. The bodies rested on leather throughbraces - not for the passengers' comfort, but to prevent injury to the horses. The wheels were made of seasoned white oak to withstand the heat and the cold. Leather "boots" front and back held mail sacks and luggage.
The interior was just over 4' wide and 4-1/2' high. Three benches provided seating for nine passengers. They traveled day and night, suffering from choking dust and stifling heat in the summer, intense cold in the winter and the ever-present threat of robbers and hostile Indians. After completing the 2,812-mile journey, one newspaper correspondent wrote, "Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what hell is like. I've just had 24 days of it."
An act of congress discontinued stagecoach mail service on June 30, 1861. The stagecoach era came to an end with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
This page was last updated Jan 1st 2016.