Stagecoach travel has been glamorized by Hollywood: a handsome hero in an immaculate white shirt and string necktie, and a neatly coiffured heroine swaying gently as the stage races across the prairie. Romantic? Yes. Truthful? No. Stagecoaches didn’t race—good drivers averaged 5 mph. And passengers arrived covered with dust and aching from the bone-rattling journey. These rigorous conditions created discord, so at every station, Wells Fargo posted this list.
Stagecoach Riders’ Nine Commandments
- Abstinence from liquor is requested. If you must drink, share your bottle; otherwise you will appear to be selfish and unneighborly.
- If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking pipes or cigars, as the odor is repugnant to the gentle sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it.
- Gentlemen must refrain from using rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
- Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
- Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow. He (or she) may not understand and friction may result.
- Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
- In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians, and hungry coyotes.
- Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
- Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.