publications

Nebraska Stagecoaches



The overland stagecoach leaving Cottonwood Springs, near Fort Cottonwood (later Fort McPherson, Nebraska). Illustration from The Overland Stage to California (1901).


 



The June 6, 1879, issue of the Sidney Plaindealer told about the building and repair of stagecoaches used on the Sidney to Deadwood Trail. The Sidney repair shop was operated by William Richardson of the Black Hills Stage Company.



“The first vehicle our attention was directed to was a coach that has been thoroughly overhauled and is to be put on the road between Rapid City and Deadwood at an early day. ‘Rapid City,’ as the neat gilt name on the sides gives the observer to know, is one of the neatest stages Mr. Richardson has turned out of his shop since his location here. The ‘Rapid City’ was made from a coach formerly used on the Cheyenne route. . . . The coach has been substantially rebuilt, a large amount of woodwork having been done upon it, and has received a complete re-ironing on parts liable to great strain and friction. The running gear is painted a straw color striped with black, the top white, curtains drab, the boot black, and the bed proper light lake [a purplish red or carmine] with gilt ornaments and stripes. Rapid City people may well be proud of it.”



The article went on to note that two other coaches, “Sidney” and “Deadwood,” were under construction. Both were to resemble the “Rapid City” in design and decoration.



Several years later in 1881 George W. “Dad” Streeter applied for a stage-driving job with the Niobrara Transportation Company of Sidney. During the Depression workers of the Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration compiled reminiscences of early-day Nebraska residents, including those of Streeter.



Streeter was at first employed to drive bull and mule teams. He succeeded at these preliminary jobs and recalled: “I had only made one trip to Deadwood with the mule team when one of the stage drivers quit. That gave me the job I had been waiting for, which consisted of driving from four to eight horses hitched to a Concord coach. The size of the stage and the number of horses used depended on how many passengers were leaving Sidney, which was the starting point. Some of the rigs could carry twenty passengers and their baggage. Our average time was ten miles per hour, over all kinds of roads–there were no good roads. All the driver was required to do was to drive. The hitching and unhitching was done by flunkies, who were kept at the stage stations along the route for that purpose.”



Streeter recalled his subsequent difficulties as a driver, including an incident in which his stagecoach descended a hill too fast and became stuck at the base of an incline. Both Streeter and a passenger were thrown off the top of the coach but escaped unhurt. Streeter got the coach underway again and even gained the next station without much loss of time, but the passenger later denounced him (to Streeter’s disgust) as a poor driver.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.