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The Stage Ride

Vacationers heading towards Nebraska's Pine Ridge, and the Black Hills beyond, have the
prospect of a pleasant journey through spectacular scenery. The trip hasn't always been such
an enjoyable jaunt, as this traveler discovered in 1877:

"Will I ever forget that stage ride? I should rather think not. I had experimented on short
distance, say from the hotel to the depot, and had occasionally rode a mile or two out, but to
get into a coach with eight others, nearly all large men, when the utmost capacity was three
on each of the three seats, and start off for a ride of three hundred miles, with stops only for
changes of horses and meals, was something entirely fresh and new for me. The time passed
pleasantly enough until evening came.

"We held long interviews, smoked our cigars, and drank our iced tea. It isn't safe to drink
water after leaving the railroad some of the wells and springs are so strongly impregnated
with alkali that the water is very unhealthy. There were eight flasks of liquor, one bottle of
wine, and my solitary bottle of iced tea inside the coach.

"But when night came, Oh. There was the rub. Then the trouble commenced. We were
tired, our eyelids dropped, our heads were nodding, we were all wrapped in our blankets, but
we couldn't sleep. A sudden jolt of the coach (and they were frequent) would wake us all up,
and then we would laugh at each other. None would admit that they had been napping.

"Suddenly the coach would stop. Were we in the hands of road agents? No. Were the
Indians upon us? No. The voice of the driver was heard as the stage stood at the foot of a
long hill, 'Come, boys, exercise yourselves,' and we would get out, and in the cold night air,
we would walk four or five miles up hill and through deep sand.

"We would then all get back into the coach, blanket ourselves, nod a few minutes, get a few
good bumps on the head, sing a song, nod again, then get out and walk to please the driver,
you know. So the night passed, and morning dawned at last." --Omaha Daily Republican


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Last updated 14 September 2005

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