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          A  Banning  stage  is  stopped  at  Drum  Barracks,  Wilmington,  California,  in  this  1864  photograph.  Phineas  Banning  was  probably  the
          greatest independent stage line  operator in  California. His name  will  remain  as  indelibly  in  the  stage  line  history  of  California  as
                           those  of  James  Birch  and  Frank  Stevens  who  organized  the  California  Stage  Company.


                                                      BOOM DAYS

            Author's  Note:  In  writing  this  treatise
          California  express  companies  and  stage
          companies  have  been  dealt  with  primari-
          ly.  However  the  trans-continental  stage
          lines  and  the  Pony  Express  operated   certained that all stagecoaches are coach-  decades.  Localized  staging  did,  however,
          overland  into  California  and  are  there-  es,  but  ·an  coaches  are  not  stagecoaches   continue  for  some  time  as  a  service  to
          fore  a  part  of  the  story.      and  a  wagon  is  neither.         transport  passengers  from  railroad  ter-
            Also  the  subjects  of  "agency"  and   A  stagecoach  is  one  which  is  designed   minals  to  more  remote  areas.
          "agent"  have  been  discussed,  since  their   to  carry  passengers  in  overland  travel   California was  a  virgin  area for  devel-
          services  have  often  been  confused  with   over  rough  and  rugged  terrain  under .  opment  of  staging  because  of  the  rapid
          the operation of stage lines and  the Pony   hardship  conditions ..  It  also  is  designed   and explosive growth of its population in
          Express.                            to carry baggage. On  the contra·ry, horse-  widely  separated  areas.  In  1849  James
            Due  to  the  complications  of  stage  line   drawn  coaches  were  designed  for  family   Birch  pioneered  the  first  stage  line  into
          and  Pony  Express  history,  as  confused   use on city streets.  Many a  private home   the Mother Lode by operating a  one-man,
          by  "agents"  and  express  companies,  it   built  prior  to  the  turn  of  the  century   one-wagon  line  from  Sacramento  to
          has  required  a  study  of  many  years  to   had  stables,  coachman's  quarters  and  a   Coloma.  This  was  soon  increased  to  two
          bring  each  of  these areas  into  sharp  and   coach house in the rear.  The  coach  there-  wagons  and  a  hired  driver,  thereby  per-
          separate  focus.  It  is hoped  that  the  sub-  in  was  obviously  not  a  stagecoach.   mjtting  a  round  trip  each  day.
          ject  matter  will  be  of  use  to  historians   This  article  is,  therefore,  concerned   In  the  following  year,  1850,  Messrs.
          and  writers  who  can  do  so  much  to  cor-  only  with  stage  lines,  stagecoaches  and   Hall  and  Crandall  began  operating  a
          rect  the  misunderstanding  now  in  the   wagons and  the express companies which   stage  line  from  San  Francisco  to  San
          public  mind.                       used  the  services  of  stage  lines.   Jose,  then  the  capital  of  California.
                                                The principal vehicle used  on  the  stage   Many  other lines  were  formed:  Stockton
          SINCE  the  stagecoach  is  much  a  part   line  was  the  Concord  Coach  manufac-  to  Sacramento;  Marysville  to  Sacramen-
             of this  story,  some  discussion  of  ter-  tured  in  Concord,  New  Hampshire.  But   to; . Sacramento  to  Virginia  City,  Neva-
          minology  is  important.  The  coach,  the   there  were  other  vehicles,  differently   da,  etc.  Phineas  Banning  built  probably
          stagecoach  and  the  wagon  are  all  in-  sprung,  and  perhaps  more  rugged, which   the  largest  individual  stage  line  opera-
          volved.  A  "coach"  according  to  Webster   were used for rougher going.  They were,   tion  in  the  State,  in  southern  California.
          is  "a large  closed  four-wheeled  carriage,   namely: the Mud Wagon and the Celerity   It was  not  long  until  all  of  the  pass-
          having doors  in  the sides and an elevated   Wagon. Though called wagons, they were   able  roads  in  the  Mother  Lode  were
          seat  in  the  front  for  the  driver."  The   designe_d  to  carry  passengers  and  bag-  traversed by stages running on  published
          coach,  therefore,  is  for  the  conveyance   gage  along  with  mail  and  express.  But   schedules  from  point  to  point.  As  stage
          of  passengers.                     since they were not closed, they were not   lines  multiplied,   ruinous  competition
            The  next  question  is,  what  is  a  stage-  coaches or stagecoaches. They could have   among competing lines between the  same
          coach?  Webster  defines  "stage"  as  "a   been  called  "stage  wagons."   terminals existed. James Birch had grown
          place  of  rest  on  a  traveled  road,  a  sta-  The  stage  line  era  in  California  began   considerably  in  stature  and  was  perhaps
          tion,  a  place  for  a  relay  of horses."   with  the  year of the  gold  rush,  1849  and   the  greatest  stage  line  operator  operat-
            A  wagon is defined as "a kind  of four-  with  exceptions.  ended  in  1869  with  the   ing .out  of  Sacramento,  the  hub  of  the
          wheeled  vehicle;  especially  one  used  for   completion  of  the  transcontinental  rail-  wheel.
          carrying  freight  or  merchandise."  From   road.  The  golden  era  of  staging  in  Cali-  As  "all  roads  lead  to  Rome,"  it  could
          the  foregoing  definitions  it  may  be  as-  fornia  was  over  those  two  intervening   almost be  said  that all  stage  lines  began

          22                                                                                              True  West
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