Basil Smith: Wells Fargo Overland Stagecoach
Artist: Basil Smith
The story of the Overland Stage is a tale of dreams, daring, and drudgery. Though it began on the east coast, it reached a crescendo with the California Gold Rush and a phenomenon known as Gold Fever. In 1849, the discovery of gold pulled men West like a magnet. Recognizing a new opportunity, the Wells Fargo Company established the California Stagelines to carry would-be miners to their western fates. Some of the wagons rode roughly, with hard benches which provided little comfort. Worse yet, when the wagons bogged down, everyone aboard was expected to get out and push. Other problems were equally bothersome. The supply of horses was short. As a result, scrawny, unbroken animals were often teamed up unevenly, making the driver's job extremely difficult. With the introduction of the Concord Coach in 1850, the way West became easier for Wells Fargo travelers. This splendid stage coach carried as many as nine passengers in its fashionably unpholstered compartment. Perhaps the biggest improvement in this new stage was its leather suspension system. This innovation replaced the up and down jarringmotion with a gentle rocking. Because his skill was vital to a safe trip, the driver for this coach was often more highly esteemed than even his wealthiest passengers. He faced danger on a daily basis, carried goods and passengers safely West, and in a broader sense, ushered in a new age of transportation..
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® Trains & Boats & Planes & More Collection Description Card for the Wells Fargo Overland Stagecoach.
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