Friday, June 3, 2016

Concord Stagecoaches--and a Giveaway

By Jennifer Uhlarik

I’m so excited to share the news that my next release comes out in a matter of a few weeks. July 1st, to be exact. The story is one of nine novellas found in The Courageous Brides Collection. My novella, Mountain Echoes, focuses on Hannah Rose Stockton, a spinster who works for the California School for the Deaf (see my earlier blog post on the school here). As the story opens, Hannah has traveled by stage across the Sierra Nevada to collect a young deaf boy who is to be enrolled in the school in San Francisco. But on the return trip, an accident leaves Hannah to care for the wounded and lead the survivors out of the rugged mountains.

In order to write such a story, I needed to research stagecoaches—and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

The Concord Stagecoach was made by the Abbott-Downing Company, which was located in Concord, New Hampshire. The first coach was built in 1827 and weighed in at 2000 pounds. By today’s standards, it was a rough ride, but the Concord coach used a rather revolutionary suspension system, which made it a smoother ride than other wagons and conveyances of its time. Most wagons and carriages used springs to cushion the ride, which lead to a bumpy up-and-down motion. The Concord stagecoach used leather straps, called thoroughbraces, which stretched from the front to the back of the coach, and cradled the stagecoach much more gently. These thoroughbraces led to a swaying motion, far gentler than the harsh jostling of a spring suspension.


A typical Concord coach would seat nine passengers on three benches inside the cabin. Three passengers would face backward, leaning against the front wall of the coach. Three would sit facing forward, leaning against the back wall, and three would sit on a backless bench in the middle, holding straps suspended from the ceiling in order to keep their balance. This middle bench was hinged in the center and folded in half to allow passengers the space they needed to get in and out of the coach. Once everyone was aboard, they would unfold the bench seat and lock it in place. Both the driver and shotgun rider would sit on the bench atop the coach, and another six passengers could fit on top of the coach when the passenger space was needed.
An overloaded stagecoach

Passenger luggage was stored in the rear boot, a triangular shaped compartment at the back of the coach. It was secured in place by a leather cover which buckled in place. Larger chests and trunks could be placed on the top of the coach. Under the driver’s feet, a second boot contained the strongbox, mail, and other precious cargo the stagecoach might be carrying.
Historical advertisement for the Overland Mail Route.
Look at those prices!

Each Concord was pulled by a six-horse team. The average speed of the stagecoach was 8 miles per hour, and a fresh team would travel twelve to fifteen miles before the stage stopped to change teams. Every forty miles or so, the stage would stop for a brief rest, allowing passengers to partake of a meal before continuing the journey. An average day’s travel was roughly sixty to seventy miles.

Historical Advertisement for the Pioneer Stage Company,
which is the line featured in my novella, Mountain Echoes.
You can get a feel for the distances they would travel in each leg of the journey.


One of the funny things I found about stagecoaches were the “rules of etiquette” when riding on the stage. Some of them were as follows:

1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.

2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted but spit WITH the wind, not against it.

3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.

4. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.

5. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.

6. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.

7. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

It’s your turn: Would you have traveled by stagecoach if you lived in the 1800’s? Why or why not? Leave your contact information with your comment to be included in the drawing for a signed copy of The Courageous Brides Collection. Drawing will be held tomorrow, June 4, 2016.


Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.


PREORDER NOW:


Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love?


53 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It was probably the norm in those days, so I probably would have traveled by stagecoach. Those rules are hilarious. Thanks for sharing.
    debsbunch777(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree, the rules made me giggle like crazy.

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  3. Thanks for the interesting post, Jennifer. The rules and pic of the over-loaded stagecoach gave me a chuckle, although I probably would have ridden the stagecoach- given the alternatives. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bonnie. I couldn't imagine riding the stage when it was that overloaded! Ugh.

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  4. Great post, Jennifer! I would have hitched a ride for sure! Thank you! mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Melanie! Glad you stopped by.

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  5. Great post, Jennifer! I would have hitched a ride for sure! Thank you! mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  6. Your story sounds wonderful and I'd love to read it. I would like to think I'd have been brave enough to ride a stagecoach....I'd love to do it now!!! "Spit with the wind!!" good advice..........

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Connie. I hope you'll get the chance to read my story. It's one of my favorites that I've written so far. ;)

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  7. It was an adventurous time and I would have jumped at the chance to travel by stagecoach just for fun, spitting with the wind of course! Ha! I just loved reading the rules of the road!! Thanks for the fascinating history lesson and the opportunity to win your book and congratulations on your new release, Jennifer.
    Dblaser(at)windstream(dot)net

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    1. Thank you so much, Diane. I'm glad you stopped by.

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  8. Being that I believe I was born in the wrong century, I would definitely traveled by stagecoach and still would just for the experience. Thanks for the giveaway and good luck everyone.
    princessdebbie1_2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I'm with you, Debbie--I could see myself traveling by stagecoach for the experience. And I would've traveled by stage back in the day, just because it was the best they had to offer.

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  9. What a fun post! Thank you, Jennifer. I most definitely would have ridden in a stage coach - rough ride, dirt, and all.

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    1. Thanks for swinging by, Davalyn. I had a lot of fun writing this post.

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  10. Since stagecoach was the 'best' way to travel at the time, I do think I'd like to that.

    wfnren at aol dot com

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    1. That's the thing we need to remember about history, Wendy. We know that NOW, there's automobiles of all shapes and sizes, air travel, ships, and other means to travel. In those days, the stagecoach was the "best" means for the time. Interesting thought. ;)

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  11. Since it is the best way to travel, I would do so. And I've also visited a railroad museum once. They had the stagecoach as the first modes of "mass" transportation. I think I would enjoy the experience.
    justcommonly[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. I've visited a few railroad or car museums that had stagecoaches as well. Always fun to look at them in person. Thank you for stopping by!

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  12. Jennifer thanks for the fascinating info. I would travel in a stagecoach and pray I didn't get stuck on the middle bench.
    sandy.kirby.q at gmail dot com

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    1. LOL Good point, Sandy. That middle bench would be a very rough way to travel!

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  13. Gentlemen rules should still apply today. Men have lost their sense of manner somewhere in not opening the door. Loved the photo of the stagecoach parts. I like to watch movies with stagecoaches so riveting.

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    1. I think people in general have lost a lot of their manners that we used to take for granted. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Carla. Thank you for stopping in. :)

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  14. If I lived in the 1800s I would probably travel by stagecoach since that was the mode of travel that was available. It doesn't sound very comfortable, however.
    This looks like a great collection.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Susan. I agree--stagecoach travel didn't sound like the most comfortable manner of travel. Glad we have better means now!

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  15. I suppose it couldn't be avoided if you wanted to travel... but it sure doesn't sound pleasant! Maybe once they invented deodorant ;)

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. LOL Heidi--YES, the development of deodorant would've made stagecoach travel much more pleasant.

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  16. Interesting about the stagecoach. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom.

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  17. I am prone to motion sickness in today's vehicles, i can only imagine how horrible it would be in a stage coach! But at the same time...FUN

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    1. Perhaps the motion sickness wouldn't have been as bad in a stagecoach because they didn't travel at as high speeds as today's cars do. Thanks for stopping by, Cindi.

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  18. Sorry, left off contact info. Klemmk(dot)c(at)gmail(dot)com

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  19. If I really wanted to get someplace I probably would have. Thanks for the post. I love reading about stagecoaches. teshaw(at)sbcglobal(dot)net.

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  20. Congratulations, Jennifer, on your latest release. The Courageous Brides sounds like a great collection. I don't know about traveling by stage. I can't imagine the discomfort, especially for passengers on the middle bench. However, I've always been one to be a bit adventurous, so I imagine if there was a good reason, I might have traveled by stagecoach.
    may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi Kay, thanks for your comment. It's kind of hard to imagine wanting to travel by stagecoach today, knowing what we do about more comfortable means of travel now. But I like that you would be adventurous enough to give it a try.

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  21. Yes, I would have traveled by stagecoach! Thank you for including the “rules of etiquette”. As we know etiquette was so important during that era.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

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    1. I loved those rules of etiquette, Caryl. Glad you stopped by!

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  22. Loved the post. The rules were hilarious. Would love to win a copy of the collection.

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    1. Would love to see you win the copy, Ann. Please leave me your email address to be properly entered. Thanks!

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  23. I too would love to win a copy of this rousing collection of western tales. Get along little doggie.

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    1. Please be sure to leave your email address to be properly entered, Sandra!

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  24. Jen, I want to be entered in your contest :) Leigh Anne - lelu22@juno.com - Congrats again on the book my friend and no, I would not have wanted to go by stage, give me a PRIVATE carriage anyday, or better yet, by railcar. I would suspect that the "rules of etiquette" would have applied to all modes of transportation back then, especially the "spit with the wind" part - lol

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    1. Thank you, Leigh Anne. You're probably right--the rules of etiquette would have applied to all sorts of transportation. A private carriage sounds nice, but not sure how practical it would've been for the average person. ;)

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  25. Hi Jen! I loved this article! It was so informative and made me really made me think about things that I have never considered! I would have to say, that I probably wouldn't travel by stage coach. I would probably be too concerned with all that could go wrong. Indians, robberies, run away horses. Sorry to mention those as a few are not allowed to be spoken of! Haha! Have a great day!! My email is mamadecho@verizon.net- =) Dawn

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    1. Hi Dawn, thanks for stopping by! There sure were a lot of dangers to stagecoach travel, weren't there? LOL I won't tell anyone you mentioned them, though.

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  26. Yes, I would have ridden a stagecoach. I probably would have become a mail order bride. fishingjan(at)aol[dot]com

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  27. What a fantastic and informative article, Jennifer. You don't have to enter me in the contest, but I wanted to at least stop by and say hello. Since I love to travel I'm sure I would have ridden the stage at least a time or two. I'd have probably taken the train as well.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Debby. I'm sure the stage would've been quite the experience. ;)

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  28. Congratulations Leigh Anne, you won the copy of The Courageous Brides Romance Collection. I will contact you privately with details. Thank you everyone for participating and for your wonderful comments!

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