Stagecoach West

Stagecoach West

Stagecoach West

Stagecoach West

Synopsis

Stagecoach West is a comprehensive history of stagecoaching west of the Missouri. Starting with the evolution of overland passenger transportation, Moody moves on to paint a lively and informative picture of western stagecoaching, from its early short runs through its rise with the gold rush, its zenith of 1858-68 and beyond. Its story is one of grand rivalries, political chicanery, and gaudy publicity stunts, traders, fortune hunters, outlaws, courageous drivers, and indefatigable detectives. We meet colorful characters such as Charlie Parkhurst, a stagecoach driver who took an amazing secret to his death: "he" was actually a woman. Using contemporary accounts, illustrations, maps, and photographs to flesh out his narrative, Moody creates one of the most important accounts of transportation history to date.

Excerpt

Mark L. Gardner

The stagecoach--one of the Old West's greatest icons, as ubiquitous and powerful as the Winchester repeater and the swinging doors on a saloon--has roared across countless paintings and figured in paperback Westerns so numerous that they are best counted by the shelf. Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show would have been unthinkable without the famous Indian attack on the Deadwood stage, an act performed again and again to thrilled audiences around the world. and what would a Western movie or television show be without a scene showing the beautiful young heroine stepping out of a stagecoach onto some dusty, false-fronted main street?

But this alluring image is the stagecoach of myth and legend. the reality could often be considerably less exciting and romantic, although no less fascinating. "The sight of the lumbering old stage rolling along at a dead-alive pace, with four unhappy passengers cooped up inside, invariably filled me with dread," wrote one individual in 1879, "for I remembered that I too would have to submit to the torture." Indeed, riding in those picturesque coaches could be a true test of endurance, one aspect of the stagecoach era aptly revealed in Ralph Moody fine book Stagecoach West. Moody's masterful handling of the reins for this epic story of the West's stagecoach lines, however, makes this factual journey anything but "torture."

As it turns out, Ralph Owen Moody knew quite a bit about horse- drawn vehicles--from personal experience. He was born one hundred years ago (1898) in East Rochester, New Hampshire. Moody's father, Charles, suffered from that infamous scourge of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: tuberculosis. So when Ralph was eight . . .

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