Luke Voorhees visits area
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Late January 1877 -
Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage and Express Company was on the down coach (southbound) today. He has been through on the coach a couple of times this month. While here he made an inspection of the livestock, equipment and facilities at Bowman's "Hotel," our stage stop. This is one of the finest and best-equipped stops on the entire line from Cheyenne.
Voorhees has been especially busy in the Custer City to Deadwood area where he has been checking the roads, he has re-routed a portion of the line over a new toll road by the way of Mountain City instead of over the old road through Golden. This change necessitated the establishment of some new stations. He has also been checking on the condition of livestock, equipment and supplies at all of the other stations along the line. The stage line operators expect a huge increase in travel to the Black Hills with the coming of spring, and they are trying their best to be prepared.
During the last few weeks there have been several exciting shipments of gold on the down stages. On Jan. 20, the treasure box on the coach contained "thirty thousand dollars in gold dust." Five days later it contained another $25,000 in Deadwood gold.
A few days ago Billie Gay, owner of some of the richest placer mines in the Black Hills was on the down stage. He was wearing a watch chain about two feet long composed entirely of gold nuggets from the size of a pea up to the size of a hickory nut, with two or three larger ones for pendants. Nichols and Haven, owners of the Father DeSmet mine and mill at Golden Gate, (near Deadwood) recently sent a 150 ounce gold button down on the stage. It went to Stebins, Post and Company in Cheyenne who valued it at $3,000.
These gold shipments are described in glowing terms by the press as the news is sent out to the eager nation. They describe the marvelous strikes being made and the fabulous prices being paid for claims. Every detail of each shipment of gold dust and bullion as it arrives in Cheyenne over the stage line is recited to the anxious readers of the papers.
Cheyenne is bulging at the seams as all of its hotels are filled to overflowing. A court martial in session at Fort D. A. Russell has many military men in Cheyenne. The hotel lobbies are also thronged with freighters, ranchmen, settlers, and a never ending stream of gold-seekers. There is also a surveying party headed by Gen. J.A. Evans. They are to conduct a preliminary survey of a proposed railway from Cheyenne to the Black Hills.
All of this activity coupled with the assurance of the legal opening of the Black Hills in the immediate future has all of the facilities along the Cheyenne Black Hills trail preparing for the anticipated rush of travelers this spring.
(Information source: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes, by Agnes Wright Sprig).