Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Webfoot Wednesday: We're Off, on the Road, to Sacra-men-to...

Here's another tidbit from my This Day in Oregon book (see reference... somewhere below) that's guaranteed to make one take back everything ever muttered about Interstate 5's interminable boring-ness:

"Commencing this day [September 15] in 1860, the California Stage Company offered daily service between Portland and Sacramento, a distance of 710 miles, making it the second longest stage route in the entire country. Taking six days and seven hours, the passage required 28 coaches, 30 stage wagons, 35 drivers, and district agents, hostlers horses, feed and equipment to proportion. In all, 60 new stations existed along the new route."

Uff da. (I would point out to East Coasties, too, that this involves only one and a half states' worth of travel... we make em' big out here!) Hard to imagine, now that the entire distance could be traversed in one (admittedly long) day.

Perhaps just as fascinating, however, is the reality that there was a need for this service. The 19th history of the Northwest tends to be written in the broadest of strokes. "Little House"-style pioneer wagons... and then, the railroad in the late 1800s. A bit of a kerfuffle with Britain about who owned Oregon and Washington territories... and that's about it. The story of the California Stage Company and this Portland-to-Sacramento route helps demonstrate the network of white settlement that already existed in the Far West by the middle of the 19th century.

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