Wagons & Stagecoaches in the West

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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Over the years, I’ve been privileged andfortunate to uncover some of the rarest history on wheels.  The thrill of the chase is real while theresearch involved is crucial to recognizing and saving these dramatic andstory-rich reminders of America’s youth. It’s part of the reason we’ve dedicated so many resources to thisdiscovery process.  Without fail, theconstant seeking is rewarded with amazing finds.  So it was that earlier this month I sat outon another journey; one that would again take me west to learn, discover, identify,and help preserve some of the most legendary vehicles our nation ever produced.

The original Wells Fargo lettering on this 1860’s-era Concord Coach is still visible today. 
These trips are never long enough tosatisfy all my curiosities but this one started out with an air ofexpectation.  I had a good feeling thatthis excursion would reveal significant western wheels.  In fact, I had written notes prior to theevent with the prompt to ‘expect the unexpected.’  It was a reminder that came roaring to lifeeven on the plane trip.  As we boardedour early morning flight, it became clear that the aircraft would be chock fullof passengers.  The significance of thisfact was painfully punctuated by my inability to reserve an aisle seat.  So, camera on my shoulder, I sat down in whathad to be the smallest seat on the plane. To my left was a businessman evaluating profit/loss statements on hislaptop.  At the window seat on my rightwas a middle-aged woman absorbed in an electronic book.  I resolved to make the most of the confined quartersbut about an hour into the flight my legs began to cramp and my body grewimpatient.  If I could just get anarmrest – maybe that would help me feel more relaxed.  Nothing doing.  That territory was heavily guarded by myneighbors.  Making matters worse, thewoman on my right was fast asleep to the point of producing a fairly constantsnore.  I didn’t want to wake her with myarm jockeying.  What could I do toimprove things a bit?  Running throughoptions in my mind, it finally hit me.  Inthat moment of soul-searching revelation, I realized I had never reclined myseat.  Surely that would help.  Looking at the armrests, it was hard to know whichone controlled my seatback.  Eeny meenyminy moe!  I picked the right button andwill never forget what happened next.
Apparently, the reclining seatmechanisms had been recently polished and heavily greased with liquid butter.  To my utter horror, my seat did not recline asI depressed the button.  Instead, thesleeping woman’s chair fell backward as if it had been dropped from 30,000 feet.  It hit the end of its range with a thud sohard I thought the hinge had broken. Worse yet, the look of terror on the woman’s face lacked only a screamto complete the nightmare.  Clearly, shethought we were crashing.  My first reactionwas to feign innocence blended with curiosity as to what may have justoccurred.  Of course, it didn’twork.  She read me better than the Kindlenotebook on the tray in front of her.  Iquickly apologized and wished I could disappear.  As she began to get her bearings, though, shestarted to laugh.  Thankfully, she couldsee the regret and humor from both sides of the story.  It turns out that the experience was a signof things to come. 

Images of mud wagons, stage wagons, and Concord Coaches are still highly popular symbols of the American West.
Full of twists, turns, questions, and manymore surprises, the trip proved to be one of our most productive early vehicle pursuitsto date. From stage wagons and concord coaches to western freighters, giant loggingwagons, and California Rack Beds, the expedition was packed with newdiscoveries.  It’s a busy summer here butstay tuned!  I’ll be sharing more highlightsin the coming weeks.
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