Owner inspecting stage line
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Jack Gilmer, one of the owners of the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Company, was here a few days ago. He is making a careful inspection of the entire line, now that the new route north to Deadwood is in use. He is planning to make a change in the route immediately north of Fort Laramie, relocating it to follow Cottonwood Draw, then in almost a bee line to Hat Creek. This will shorten the route between here and Fort Laramie by 10 to 20 miles. The stage company also plans to establish two new stations, one at Raw Hide Buttes and the other at Running Water.
A route change is also being made on the north end of the route, from Cold Springs ranch to Deadwood. It will go across the prairie for nine miles to a crossing of the Spearfish River, then to Whitetail, Poorman's Gulch, through Central City, Gayville, and then down into Deadwood.
Custer City, the "Discovery" town of the Black Hills had almost turned into a ghost town last year as most of the miners moved north to newer and richer discoveries. However, this little town on the banks of French Creek has been regrowing this spring, and by May it was once again prospering as a supply center for mining districts along Castle, French, Spring, Battle, Little and big Rapid creeks.
The citizens of Custer City feel like the stage route being changed, via Jenney Stockade, some 35 miles west of them is a severe blow to their town. They feel that Custer City is entitled to regular, direct stage line connections to the outside world. In response to these demands the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Company is building a branch route from Cold Springs to Custer City.
There have been several personnel changes made by the stage company within the last month. Ed Patrick has been named northern division superintendent, Isaac Gray the Deadwood agent is resigning, to go into mining. Gray will be succeeded by W. F. Barlet, who has been the agent in Cheyenne for the last several months. H.A. Iddings is replacing Bartlet as the Cheyenne agent.
The schedule for coaches leaving Cheyenne has also been changed. Since June 15 the up coaches leave after the arrival of the Union Pacific express from the east instead of the former departure time of 2 a.m. The down coaches now reach Cheyenne before the departure time of the east bound Union Pacific express, these changes enable passengers to make connections without a lay-over in Cheyenne.
With the changes in routes, travel time from Cheyenne to Deadwood has been cut from 60 hours to about 52 hours. The coaches are now running daily and the fare is $30.
In the last six months the stage company has carried 3,128 first and second class passengers providing $48,766.22 in fares. Over the same time they have hauled 5,680 express packages for $19,471.44. They have $200,000 invested in coaches, 600 horses and 80 men on their payroll.
(Information source: "Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)