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The  great - grandson  of  William
     Bradford  Waddell,  one  of  the
     founders  of  the  Pony  Express,
     describes  the  most  exciting  era
     in  American  transportation-that
     brief span beginning with the Gold
     Rush  and  ending  with  the  advent
                of the rails

     in  Sacramento.  With  the  advantage  of
     experience  and  location,  James  Birch,
     with  his  partner,  Frank  S.  Stevens,  or-
     ganized  the  California  Stage  Company
     on  New  Year's  Day,  1854,  with  head-
     quarters  in  Sacramento.
       This  corporation  was  the  result  of  a
     merger,  by  purchase  and  otherwise,  of
     eighty  per  cent  of  all  of  the  stage  lines
     in  California.  The  schedules  of  the
     California  Stage  Company  reached up
     and  down  the  State,  in  and  out  of  the
     Mother Lode and up to Portland, Oregon.
     Well-organized and well-operated organi-
     zation that it was, this company operated
     more  coaches  and  traveled  more  miles
     of  scheduled  route  than  any  other  in   William H.  Russell  (left),  Alexander Majors
                                             and  William  Bradford  Waddell  {right),
     America  at  the  time,  but  was  exceeded   members of the  firm  of  Russell,  Majors  and
     later  by  Ben  Holladay  and  his  Holladay   Waddell.  These  men  were  primarily  over-
     Overland  Mail  Company  which  operated   land  freighters  but  went  extensively  into
     west  from  the  Missouri  River.
                                             the  business  of  stage  lines.  They too  were
     to  CLEAR  UP the  difference  between   the  founders,  owners  and  operators  of  the
                                             famed Pony Express. The bronze plaque on
       stage lines and express companies the   the  right  is  one  of  one  hundred  being
                                             placed along the  trail  of  the  Pony Express.


     functioning of the stage line and services
     of a  stage  line  should  be  clarified.   Wells Fargo's appointment as agent by Mr.
      The  stage  line,  whose  name  appeared   Russell  was not  exclusive  as  the  line  had
     on  the  letterboard  over  the  stagecoach   many  agents.  The  ad  {below)  in  New
     door,  carried  passengers.  It may  or may   York,  July  1,  1861,  illustrates  that  the  fees
     not  have  had  a  mail  contract,  and  if  it   for  carrying  Pony  Express  letters were  not
     did, the  panel  under  the  door  was  gen-  postal  charges  but  express  charges,  col-
     erally  marked  with  Uncle  Sam's  eagle   lected  by  the  agent  and  transmi.tted  to
                                         the  operators.
     and  the  words  "U.  S..  Mail."
      The  stage  lines  also  carried  packages
     for many express companies. If the stage
     line  were  in  an  area  served  principally
     by  one  express  company,  then  the  stage
     may  or  may  not  have  had  lettered  into
     the  panel  beside  the  driver's  seat  the
     words  "Adams  and  Company  Express"
     or "Wells Fargo and  Company Express."
       But  the  fact  that  a  stagecoach  may
     have  carried  express  and/or  mail  does
     not  imply  that  the  Government  or  the-
     express  company  owned  the  stage  line.
     A  simple corollary of this is the railroad
     of  yesterday  and  today.
      The  air  line  of  today  carries  passen-
     gers  and  it  carries  airmail  for  the  Gov-
     ernment  under  contract.  It  also  carries
     air  express  for  the  Railway  Express
     Agency.  So  the  services  performed  by
     the  stage  lines;  the  railroads  and  the
     air lines  are  the  same-passengers, mail
     and  express.
      Like  the  stage  lines,  there  were  also
    hundreds  of early-day California express
     companies, the greatest of which was the
     Adams  Express  which  was  founded  in                                Above  is  an  advertisement  of  the  Butter-
     the  East  in  1839  and  which  moved  into                           field  Overland Mail after it  was transferred
     California  in  1849  with  the  gold  rush.                           from  the  southern  to  the  central  route,
     Within  three  years  it  had  a  vast  net-                                   beginning July 1,  1861.
     July-August, 1966                                                                                      23
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