Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Photo: Stage Travel

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, PAc 2011-65.13
Today's photo shows women traveling by stagecoach, probably near Zortman, Montana. For our last post in honor of Women's History Month, here's one woman's experience traveling by stage.

Frances M. A. Roe wrote a lively account of a stage ride through the treacherous Prickly Pear Canyon in Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife. Frances describes why she dreaded meeting an oncoming ox train on the very narrow, boulder-strewn road. Sure enough, they had not gone far when a huge freighter lumbered toward them. A sheer precipice dropped on one side and soared skyward on the other. It seemed a hopeless situation. The driver barked, “Get the lady out!” Men from the freighters sidled over. With no words spoken, they knew exactly what to do. They lifted the stage—trunks and all—up, over, and onto some of the boulders and led the horses between others. The horses stood at the edge of the precipice without a twitch while three teams of eight yokes of oxen passed by. “It made me ill,” Frances wrote, “to see the poor patient oxen straining and pulling up the grade those huge wagons so heavily loaded. The crunching and groaning of the wagons, rattling of the enormous cable chains, and the creaking of the heavy yokes of the oxen were awful sounds, and above all the came yells of the drivers, and the sharp, pistol-like reports of the long whips.” After the wagons passed, the men returned and matter-of-factly set the stage on the road. The process was repeated six or seven times as the stage traveled through the canyon.

No comments:

Post a Comment