In the old west, stage coach rides were the norm for passenger travel. Dime novels managed to romanticize these vessels and their long treacherous trips through dangerous and desolate trails, but the reality was, they were dangerous. Not only did they carry passengers of great importance, they carried gold and silver bullion shipments, and the U.S. mail.
Oftentimes, the drivers were killed, and sometimes passengers too. They were often robbed, and because of the tight schedule they tried to keep, they pushed the horses to their limits between way stations, where they would swap out the draft horses. Wheels and axles were not always in the best of shape, and there were occasions when they lost a wheel going thirty-plus miles an hour. For a carriage made of wood, toppling over into ditches could mean total devastation for passengers, drivers, and sometimes, the horses.
The term shotgun, when referring to being a passenger in a vehicle, comes from the old west term that meant being in the position (armed with a shotgun) to protect passengers and the gold shipments on stage coaches. This man had to keep a close eye on the horizon while the driver concentrated on the road. Both worked together to keep everyone safe, but they couldn't always avoid being bushwhacked.
All of the stories I write, I romanticize the stage coach ride, which makes for a great story. Truth is, I prefer to keep the romantic side of the stage coach ride alive. I feel that if someone wants to know the reality of it, they can look up historical writings. For me, I'll stick to fiction and the romantic ride on a stage coach that takes my characters to a new and interesting place. If you want a taste of the old west and the romantic ride in a real stage coach, visit Tombstone, Arizona, where they still give tours in them.
*To see more pictures from Lisa Towns Meyers, see her Facebook page here: Lisa's Country Photos
This Mail Order Brides Series is based in Tombstone Arizona in the 1800's where my characters rode the stage coach to arrive as Mail Order Brides.