The Medora to Deadwood Stage
It was common knowledge in the 1880s that there was gold in the Black Hills. Deadwood was a boomtown. It seemed as if everyone was trying to get there. The French nobleman Marquis de Mores was always on the lookout for a quick way to make money. He once boasted, “I will be the richest financier in the world.” He was known for his grandiose schemes. He thought there had to be an easier way to make money than by digging gold out of the ground. That’s when he realized that people had to get to the Black Hills before they could start digging. And he knew just how they could get there. On this date in 1884, he established the Medora to Deadwood Stagecoach Line.
The cost for the stage was 10 cents per mile. The average trip cost $21.50. That was a substantial amount of money at the time. The full trip took 36 hours. We see stagecoaches in TV shows and movies traveling at full gallop, but it was not realistic to run horses at full speed for miles on end. A brisk trot was more likely.
The journey could not be considered an easy one. A stagecoach was not a very comfortable mode of transportation. The lack of springs resulted in a jarring ride. Relay stations were located every ten to fifteen miles. The horses were changed at these stations. Passengers took the opportunity to get off the stage and stretch their legs. They could purchase food at some of the stations, but the travelers found the refreshments high-priced and of questionable quality. Accommodations were far from luxurious.
The stage line only ran for two years. As a money-making scheme, it was less than successful. In the end, the venture lost money.
The stage line is still remembered by re-enactors who make the journey by stagecoach, wagon, and horseback. In 2013, about 300 riders and drivers went down the trail, keeping as closely as possible to the old route, including a stop at Buffalo Springs, one of the original stage coach stops. In some places, the original wagon tracks are still visible. Visitors to Chateau de Mores today can take less daunting stagecoach rides of 30 minutes.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Donovan, Lauren. “Stagecoach riders out on the prairie Badlands this week.” Bismarck Tribune: 31 August, 2013.
National Park Service. "http://www.nps.gov/thro/historyculture/marquis-de-mores.htm" http://www.nps.gov/thro/historyculture/marquis-de-mores.htm Accessed 18 July, 2014.
State Historical Society of North Dakota. "http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/chateau/index.html" http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/chateau/index.html Accessed 17 July, 2014.