The Stagecoach in Northern California: Rough Rides, Gold Camps & Daring Drivers (Transportation)
As with most published history, this book will not make the best seller’s list; however, Stapp’s no-nonsense journalistic style deserves special notice. She takes a little known subject–the history of Northern Californian stagecoaches–and brings out its relevance in vivid detail. In the Gold Rush heydays when thousands of prospectors flooded California, just getting from one place to another presented an overwhelming challenge. With no roads connecting the trading towns of San Francisco and Sacramento with the gold fields, the transportation business started ad hoc with a handful of enterprising entrepreneurs. These men, not the municipalities, cut routes from their own profits through the rugged California terrain, often with disastrous results.
Stapp covers the pioneer years before railroads made stagecoaches obsolete, covering the evolution of the coaches themselves from primitive wagons to elegant carriages. She describes the way stations, the inns, and the stopovers, some of which still exist along these forgotten routes. Perhaps most interesting of all, Stapp tells the stories of coachmen and highwaymen, robberies, murders, and thrilling manhunts. Stapp provides research on famous desperados and the early detectives who chased the outlaws, Black Bart and the daring Wells Fargo chief, Jim Hume.
|The History Press
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