Thursday, May 30, 2024

Bucking The Open Buckboard Stage: Doc Holliday On A Fruit Wagon?

 May 30, 2024

   We've got a lively debate going on regarding what kind of stagecoach Doc may have ridden on with the Starline Stage Company that ran between Santa Fe and Prescott in the 1879-1880 era.

   Of course, when we think of Old West stagcoaches we think of the classic Concord stage like this:

A typical Concord Stage in a mining town

  So, I was leaning towards, what was known at that time as a mudwagon, the usage of which was more pronounced in the Southwest and is more funky and likely on the rough backroads east and west of Zuni.

A typical mudwagon out West

   So, Stuart Rosebrook found a photo of an early stage—in Prescott!—and I took the liberty of painting Doc Holliday in the back seat ready for his long journey to Santa Fe and on to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Daily Whip Out: "Doc In Stage"

   Well, master researcher and best-selling author, Mark Lee Gardner, was having none of this. He sent me to a website that claims that the kind of stage Doc was riding on between Prescott and Santa Fe looked like this.

An open two-seated buckboard

   Frankly, I had to suppress a laugh. Do you honestly expect me to believe that this is the kind of stage Doc would have taken in 1879? When I barely concealed my contempt and mocked this as being ludicrous, Mark sent me this:

An "open two-seated vehicle"
Weekly Journal-Miner, August 8, 1879

   Well, I'll be a monkey's befuddled uncle. Sometimes the truth is stranger than any fiction you can make up. Imagine a Western movie where Doc Holliday gets into an open two-seated buckboard like that fruitcake-surrey-rig, above, and says, "take me to Prescott, Arizona Territory," and off they go on a 507 mile journey with him sitting between overstuffed mail bags. I would be the first one laughing and jeering at the screen.

   But then, what the hell do I know?

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."

—Old Vaquero Saying

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