Not every person could handle a stagecoach. The stagecoach driver was held in greater esteem when on the summit of the Sierra than was the millionaire statesman who may be riding beside him.
Although most stage drivers had been sober, at least though on duty, almost all had been fond of an occasional “eye opener.” A very good driver was the captain of his craft. He was feared by his timid passengers, awed by steady boys, and was the trusty agent of his employer.
The seat subsequent to the driver, climate permitting, was the preferred seat of the guys passengers. But this was 1 seat that was reserved, and it was not gotten by just becoming the very first to hop on the left front wheel rim and climbing into the box.
If the driver did not want the individual who took the seat there, he would firmly order him down, and then love the passenger's discomfiture for the subsequent ten miles.
To sit in the driver's seat, 1 proceeded pretty a great deal in the manner of securing an appointment to a higher workplace. He went to the supply of authority–above the driver himself–to the superintendent and even to the president of the corporation.
Charlie Parkhurst was 1 of the extra skillful stagecoach drivers, not only in California, but all through the west. He was variously named “1-eyed” or “Cockeyed” Charlie, since he had lost an eye when kicked by a horse. For 20 years, he drove stagecoach in California. Twice Charlie was held up. The very first time, he was forced to throw down his strongbox since he was unarmed. The second time, he was ready.
When a road agent ordered the stage to cease and commanded Charlie to throw down its strongbox, Parkhurst leveled a shotgun blast into the chest of the outlaw, whipped his horses into a complete gallop, and left the bandit in the road.
1-eyed Charlie was recognized as 1 of the toughest, roughest, and the most daring of stagecoach drivers. Like most drivers, he was proud of his talent in the really tough job as “whip.” Suitable handling of the horses and the fantastic coaches was an art that essential a great deal practice, expertise, and not the least, courage.
Whips received higher salaries for the occasions, at times as a great deal as $125 a month, plus area and board.
“How in the globe can you see your way by way of this dust?” 1 passenger asked Charlie.
“Smell it. Reality is,” Charlie replied, “I've traveled more than these mountains so typically I can inform exactly where the road is by the sound of the wheels. When they rattle, I am on really hard ground when they never rattle I gen'r'lly appear more than the side to see exactly where she's agoing.”
However, tiny was genuinely recognized about Charlie Parkhurst ahead of or immediately after he came to California. It wasn't till his physique was ready for burial that his accurate secret was found.
Charlotte “Charlie” Parkhurst was a lady. 1 physician claimed that at some point in her life, she had been a mother.
Unknowingly, Parkhurst could claim a national very first. Right after voting on Election Day, November three, 1868, Charlie was almost certainly the very first lady to cast a ballot in any election. It wasn't till 52 years later that the proper to vote was assured to ladies by the nineteenth amendment.
All stagecoach drivers, which includes Charlie, viewed as their whips worth their weight in gold. Drivers viewed as their whips a badge of honor.
Some drivers would as quickly be caught with no their pants as with no their whips. Numerous of the whips employed by the stage drivers had been fine performs of art, normally ornamented with handcrafted silver ferules girdling a manage produced of hickory. Numerous of these whips are prized museum pieces these days.
Whips had been by no means sold, loaned, borrowed, or traded. In his book, “Stagecoach Days in Santa Barbara County, Walker A. Tompkins wrote, ” Whips had been viewed as a portion of the driver, who kept the lashes effectively-oiled and as pliable as “a snake in the sun.”
Most stagecoach whips had buckskin lashes, normally from 11 to 12 feet in length, attached to a 5-foot hickory shaft. The lashes had been 10 feet also quick to attain the lead group, which was controlled by reining.
Some uncommon drivers did carry a “six-horse whip” with a 22-foot lash, but these had been mostly for circus and rodeo appearances, and viewed as also unwieldy for sensible use.
The driver took his whip with him when off duty, and generally hung it up. He by no means rested it in a corner for worry of warping the stock. Neither did he wrap the lash about the manage for worry of curling the thongs.
Stagecoach drivers had been scornful of the way they had been depicted in the motion pictures. The top rated-grade stagecoach drivers employed cracking of the whip sparingly. These drivers had been concerned that the “pistol-shot” sounds produced by the whips would only startle their passengers out of their naps or, worse however, spook their teams.
Roads had to be constructed at public expense ahead of stagecoaches had been offered a route. Some had been tiny extra than ox-cart tracks linking the several ranchos. Even the El Camino Genuine, the storied “King's Highway”, was tiny extra than a foot trail.
A tale is told about stage driver Whispering George Cooper. He got his name since of his loud bellow, which was stated could be heard for miles, even against a wind, though he pushed his group up a treacherous pass.
At 1 point, Whispering George required to repair a broken single tree that had created a poor split. He scoured the stage for a bit of rope or a scrap of baling wire, to make the repair.
At that moment, a rattlesnake slithering across the road in front of them spooked his group. George killed the snake, which measured 5 feet or extra in length. A passenger commented how a great deal the snake resembled a rope.
“By gawd, that is what I will use it for!” exclaimed George. He wrapped the dead snake about the single tree and knotted it into spot. It worked, holding the broken single tree collectively till it reached a relay station.
The term “stagecoach” came about in medieval Europe, when public coach travel was the only way 1 could get from 1 point to a further with no walking.
Trips had been normally produced in straightforward stages since of poor roads and the lack of overnight lodgings along the way. Therefore, the term “stage” coach