Source: Sherman Publications

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Legendary Wells Fargo stagecoach booked for Lone Ranger parade

by CJ Carnacchio

April 09, 2014

Don’t tell Black Bart, but the famous Wells Fargo stagecoach is coming to Oxford again Aug. 2.
A priceless piece of America's famed Old West will return to Oxford this summer, so be on the lookout for bandits like Black Bart.

Rod Charles was pleased to announce the legendary Wells Fargo Stagecoach will once again take part in Oxford's Lone Ranger parade on Saturday, Aug. 2.

"It was so well-received by the crowd (at last year's parade), I was determined to seek a return engagement," he said. "Thanks to my neighbor, Bill Daneluk, I was able to get in touch with the right people to make it happen."

Charles noted Oxford made "such a great, positive impression" on the stagecoach driver during last year's parade that he said, "If you guys do this again, please ask us back."

Pulled by a team of six horses, the Wells Fargo stagecoach once travelled wherever the railroads ended, carrying valuables, mail and even passengers across America's vast plains, treacherous mountains and scorching deserts.

Charles, who chairs Oxford's Lone Ranger Committee and serves on the Downtown Development Authority board, described it as "one of the iconic symbols of the Wild West."

"I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought it had a great impact on (last year's) parade. It adds the aura of the Old West."

"The only thing that troubles me is in my mind, I keep humming that Wells Fargo song from The Music Man," Charles added.

Perhaps, these stagecoaches' most famous cargo was Wells Fargo's distinct green treasure boxes, loaded with 100 to 150 pounds of gold and/or silver bullion.

Because the Old West was quite often the "Wild West," these stagecoaches were guarded by tough characters, like Wyatt Earp, armed with sawed-off shotguns loaded with deadly buckshot to fend off attacks from dastardly outlaws.

Weighing about 2,500 pounds each, Wells Fargo used Concord Coaches, designed and constructed in Concord, New Hampshire, because they were "built high and wide to handle the rough, rutted roads of a new country," according to the company's website

"The curved frame of the body gave it strength, and perhaps a little extra elbow room," the website states. "Perfectly formed, fitted and balanced wheels stood up to the decades of drenching mountain storms and parching desert heat.

"The unique feature of these coaches was the suspension. Instead of steel springs, the coach body rested on leather 'thoroughbraces,' made of strips of thick bullhide. This feature spared the horses from jarring and gave the stagecoach a (sometimes) gentle rocking motion, leading Mark Twain to call it, 'An imposing cradle on wheels.'"

Wells Fargo paid $1,100 each for these coaches, which was expensive in the mid-1800s.

Wells Fargo operated its own stagecoach lines from 1866-69. Its coaches ran from Nebraska to California, going through Denver and Salt Lake City in between. They also went north from Utah to Montana and Idaho.

Well Fargo's stagelines ended in 1869 with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

After that, the company used independent stageline operators to carry cargo wherever the railroads did not go, a practice it continued into the early 20th century, according to the Wells Fargo website.

Today, Wells Fargo displays 10 original coaches in its historical museums, has 13 on display at various company buildings and uses a fleet of 17 coaches for marketing events and civic, nonpartisan parades across the country.