Via Western Express & Stagecoach

Via Western Express & Stagecoach

Via Western Express & Stagecoach

Via Western Express & Stagecoach

Excerpt

This is the story of stagecoach and express transportation in California before the Iron Horse came puffing across the Sierra Nevada. Also, it is the history of travel during a time when hordes of people from all parts of the globe rushed to California in search of fortune and fame, a time when the West was bumptious, raucous, and wild.

Gold was the magnet that drew thousands upon thousands to the Mother Lode country, far from the established coastal towns and from navigable waters. Providing means of going to and from the diggings, of getting the precious yellow dust to places of safekeeping, of getting letters to homesick miners taxed the ingenuity of the frontier society which mushroomed into being during the quarter-century that followed the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall in 1848.

The subject of this book has many ramifications. The cold, sober statistics, the involved facts and the long list of names and dates, and the analysis of economic trends connected with the transportation business -- subjects stressed in my Express and Stagecoach Days in California (Standard University Press, 1936 1938) -- have been reduced here to a minimum. Instead, the emphasis has been placed upon the more human, the more picturesque and exciting aspects of overland transportation. The modes, dangers, hardships, and delights of cross-country travel, wayside taverns and their bills-of-fare, pioneer stage and express men, famous drivers, and notorious highwaymen have received the main emphasis.

And, lastly, I have sought to show the extent to which California was isolated from the rest of the nation and what was done in the pre-railroad age to improve communication and the handling of the mails between the Golden State and her sister . . .

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