Geyser Bob's Yellowstone Transportation History
The Early Stagecoaches Companies
Excerpts from "Making Concessions in Yellowstone"
The Abbot-Downing Co.
J.S. Abbott and Lewis Downing started this stagecoach company in 1826 and built the first Concord Stage in 1827.  The company was known by several variations of the name over the years and produced over 3700 Concord Stages between 1827-1899.  The basic model weighed over 1-ton and the coach rode on twin through-braces made out of rawhide that formed 3 inch thick leather springs and gave a smooth, swinging motion.  The coaches were used extensively throughout the west and are considered the finest stagecoaches ever built.  The underbody was painted yellow, while the coach body could be red (Monida & Yellowstone), yellow (YPTCo), green, or other colors at the buyers request.  9-12 passengers could typically ride inside the 4+ foot wide interior on three bench seats.  One person could sit next to the driver (riding shotgun) and at least one model had a bench seat on top in the back.   In 1907 YPTCo contracted with Abbott-Downing to build larger stagecoaches.
[Thanks to and www.theconcordcoach.tripod]
Typical old-time stagecoach used in Yellowstone in the early days.  This coach was on display at the Mammoth Visitor Center for many years.
Bloom Bros. Postcard #Y. P. 47
The Bassett Brothers
There were six Bassett brothers who provided outfitting services in the park that included furnishing tents, tools, food, supplies, horses, and guides. They began running stagecoaches into the park in 1881 from the Utah & Northern rail line at Beaver, Idaho, near the current town of Spencer.  It was about 110 miles from Beaver to the Lower Geyser Basin, requiring three nights camping to get there, but they advertised the route as being 150 miles shorter than the Virginia City route.  An 1881 newspaper ad proclaimed "The Eden of America!" "Light Spring Wagons, Good Teams, Experienced Drivers and Good Hunting and Fishing anywhere along the road."  The cost was $25 to
Marshall's Hotel on the Firehole and the return trip. 

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Union Pacific Stage Line Letterhead.
Dated June 5, 1898.  C.J. Bassett was listed as the proprietor
Courtesy Yellowstone Park Archives
Gilmer & Salibury
Jack F. Gilmer, with brothers O.J. and Monroe Salisbury formed this stagecoach line in 1868 with the purchase of the assets of the Utah, Idaho, and Montana branches of Wells, Fargo Co.  In 1873 this transportation firm was running stages from Fort Benton, Montana to Helena. They bought out the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage, Mail and Express Line in 1876, operating the Deadwood line between Cheyenne and the Black Hills. They began running stagecoaches into the park from the Union Pacific rail line at Spencer, Idaho beginning in 1879 and built a stage station at Henry�s Lake in 1881.  The route passed through Virginia City, Ennis, Henry�s Lake and Targhee Pass before arriving at
Marshall�s Hotel. They became one of the most powerful corporations in the Northwest in the late 1800�s and amassed a nice fortune.  In their final days lines ran from the Canadian border to southern Utah and from the Great Plains to California and Washington. 
The Wakefield Stage Companies
George W.  Wakefield and Charles W. Hoffman of Bozeman established the
Wakefield & Hoffman stage line in 1883 and provided service from Cinnabar to Mammoth and into the park under an exclusive agreement with YPA.  They operated from Livingston to Cinnabar until NPRR�s line was open to Cinnabar.  They also received the mail contract for the Livingston to Cooke City route and provided daily mail service (during the summer season) to Mammoth beginning in July 1883.  The company built a mail station near Soda Butte as the trip from Cinnabar to Cooke City took more than one day.  Wakefield bought out Charles Hoffman in Dec. of 1885 and teamed up with Frank Haynes to form Wakefield & Haynes.  The company was short-lived and Haynes sold out in June of 1886 for $2400.  The concern then became known as Wakefield Stage Lines.  In 1887 they began tri-weekly stage service from Livingston to the mining city of Castle.  In 1889 the business incorporated as the National Park Transportation Co. with members Charles Gibson, E.C. Waters, Wakefield, and Thomas Oakes.  Wakefield bought James Clark�s hotel operation at Mammoth in 1888.  George Wakefield lost the YPA contract in late 1891, and the operation was purchased by the YNPTC in 1892.  By 1894 the firm of Wakefield & Ennis was delivering mail by stage from Livingston to Cinnabar.  D.I. Donovan took over the route in 1895. The following year George Wakefield received permission to transport visitors from the Union Pacific rail line at Monida.  He used 10-passenger Concord coaches and began operation of a camping company in the park that year.  The 10-day camping tours cost $40 and all the visitors camping needs were provided for.  He used 10-passenger Concord coaches and also operated a camping company in the park that year.
Soda Butte Stage Stop, circa late 1880's
"Canvasser's High Grade Original Views" stereoview
From the author's collection
Marshall & Goff
Marshall received the mail carrier contract for one year from Mammoth to Virginia City in 1879.  He built a house at the Firehole River near Nez Perce Creek.  The following year he erected a mail station at Norris, possibly in the meadow near the soldier station. Marshall started a stagecoach service with John Goff in 1880, with the first stagecoach leaving October 1 from Virginia City to the Lower Basin.  Marshall began giving tours of the park that same year and his tours were the first known to originate from 'within` the park.  Marshall and Goff also built a
hotel along the Firehole River in 1880, becoming the 2nd hotel in the park.
Yellowstone Transportation Co. (YTC)
This firm was organized by Charles Gibson, who also co-founded YPA, and Thomas F. Oakes in 1886. However, they were unable to acquire a lease from the Army authorities, so they subcontracted with Wakefield & Hoffman to provide stagecoach service for YPA.  That year Gibson issued a notice that "the drivers of the stage should act as guides in showing guests all the curiosities of the park."  YPA`s transportation privileges were revoked November 1, 1891 and were taken over by the YNPTC.
"Park Stage at Mammoth Hot Springs"
Pictured is the National Hotel at Mammoth
Detroit Publishing Co. Postcard #8801
From the author's collection
                                                                Other Smaller Stage Companies
National Park Hack & Express:  Operated by James Clark in the early 1880's, he rented carriages, hacks, and saddle horses, with or without drivers.  E.O. Clark was his partner.

Cooke Stage & Express Line: Operated by Clark by 1886 to deliver mail and passengers to Cooke City from Mammoth.  The operation required an overnight stop at Soad Butte.

Cinnabar & Cooke Transporation Co.:
Operated by Hugo and W.M. Hoppe by 1886 to haul freight from Cinnabar to the Cooke City Mines.

Zach Root's Express: This firm hauled freight and passengers from Bozeman to Mammoth on a weekly basis beginning in July of 1874. 
                   Transportation History Pages

Page 1:   
Page 2:   
Early Stagecoach Companies
Page 2a:  
Bassett Brothers
Page 3:   
The Larger Stage Companies Take Over
Page 4:   
The Horseless Carriage Rules the Road
Copyright 2006 Robert V. Goss
All rights reserved.  No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.
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