Monday, January 21, 2013


Contrary to those in the movies, stage coaches came in several sizes and styles. Some had three seats, some two. But they all had rigorous rules of travelers’ deportment. The following list is from the 1877 Omaha Herald via the source at the end:

Hints For Plains Travelers

The best seat inside a stagecoach is the one next to the driver…you will get less than half the bumps and jars than on any other seat. When any old “sly Eph,” who traveled thousands of miles on coaches, offers through sympathy to exchange his back or middle seat with you, don’t do it.

Never ride in cold weather with tight books or shoes or close-fitting gloves. Bathe your feet the night before starting in cold water, and wear loose overshoes and gloves about two three sizes too large.

When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling. He will not request it unless absolutely necessary. If a team runs away, sit still and take your chances. If you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt.

In very cold weather, abstain entirely from liquor while on the road. A man will freeze twice as quick while under its influence.

Don’t growl at food stations; stage companies generally provide the best they can. Don’t keep the stage waiting; many a virtuous man has lost his character by doing so.

Don’t smoke a strong pipe inside, especially early in the morning. Spit on the leeward side of the coach. If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around. A man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling. Provide stimulants before starting. Ranch whisky is not always nectar.

Don’t swear, nor lop over on your neighbor when sleeping. Don’t ask how far it is to the next station.
Never attempt to fire a gun or pistol while on the road. It may frighten the team, and the careless handling and cocking of the weapon makes nervous people nervous.

Don’t discuss politics or religion, nor point out places on the road where horrible murders have been committed.

Don’t linger too long at the pewter wash basin at the station.

Don’t grease your hair before starting or dust will stick there in sufficient quantities to make a respectable ‘tater’ patch. Tie as silk handkerchief around your neck to keep out dust and prevent sunburn.

A little glycerin is good in case of chapped hands.

Don’t imagine for a moment you are going on a picnic. Expect annoyance, discomfort, and some hardships. If you are disappointed, thank heaven.

In my western historical HIGH STAKES BRIDE, the heroine tries to reach a stage to escape her two evil stepbrothers. She is plagued by bad luck, that is, until she throw in with the hero.

I’ve ridden briefly in a stage coach a couple of times. I have to say I am very grateful for my nice air-conditioned sedan. How about you?

KEEPING HEARTH AND HOME IN OLD TEXAS: The How-To Book Your Great-Great- Grandmother Used, pages 201-202, by Carol Padgett, Sweetwater Press.

Caroline Clemmons is the author of numerous western historical and contemporary romances. See her books at her Amazon Author Page:

Books also available from Nook, iPad, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords

Thanks for stopping by!


Neil A. Waring said...

I have ridden in several stage coaches and they did not rival my SUV at all-enjoyed the post.
Thought you might be interested in my stage coach story from my blog a week ago-

Meg said...

Great details, Caroline!! I loved the "tater patch" bit. HAHAHA! and men did use brilliantine or hair oil a lot back then. Ugh. I think I'd have chosen the train, which had sparks, dust and other problems. Sure am grateful every time I turn the ignition key on my SUV!! ;-)

Lyn Horner said...

I agree with Meg. The detailed warnings you listed here might come in very handy in my future stories. Thanks for sharing such great info.