Weather causes much havoc for stage line
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
All of the Laramie County Commissioners were on the up coach today, they rode as far as Fort Laramie and are inspecting bridges on the Laramie and North Platte rivers. The commissioners are Thomas Swan, A. Gilcrest and G.W. Hoyt.
The weather this spring has caused many problems on Laramie County Road Number 2 (the Cheyenne to Black Hills Trail.)
On April 21, a very severe snow storm occurred in the area from Fort Laramie to Cheyenne. It snowed continuously for 56 hours in the Chugwater valley, this was followed by even more snow. Hi Kelly lost 400 head of cattle during the storm on his ranch at Chugwater. There were many other livestock losses and a great many freight teams were laid up for days on the road. It was the worst storm anybody in the area had ever seen.
As this late snow started melting it kept the roads in terrible condition for weeks.
A month later, heavy rains caused severe flooding in the same area. The flooding waters damaged approaches on both sides of the bridge at Pole Creek; washed away the bridge at Horse Creek; took out the upper bridge at Kelly's ranch and washed away the approach to the south side of the bridge approaches to the Platte River bridge at Fort Laramie. One of the bids received by the commissioners to repair all of this damage was $7,300.
More heavy rains came in June, however, as the commissioners traveled on the coach to inspect the repairs to the bridges they found the road very dusty. Passenger and freight traffic is heavy over the road, much of it is headed for the mines near Raw Hide Buttes.
Even with all of the problems from the weather and road conditions, Russell Thorp, new owner of the stage line is building a new station at Schwartze's ranch on Pole Creek. The journey from Cheyenne to Fort Laramie (nearly 100 miles) is made between six in the morning and seven in the evening. Travelers say that the line is conducted with energy, the drivers are most good natured and accommodating and a trip is made with as little inconvenience as possible to the passengers.
About the time everything in the line was running smoothly, a fire destroyed the dwelling maintained by Mr. Thorp at Fort Laramie. All of the contents burned, despite efforts of the soldiers to put the fire out. The study stage line owner managed to take this in his stride and is working hard to increase the efficiency of the line in order to meet the demands he feels will be placed on it in the coming year.
(Information sources: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring; "John Hunton's Diary," Volume 5, by L.G. Flannery; "Wyoming Blue Book," Volume 1, by Virginia Cole Trenholm).