loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...


GRHC - January 20th, 2010

Grand Rapids Historical Commission and the Community Media Center present the local history radio project, "Glance at the Past". Today, some tales of the early transportation.



The early stages were simply square-box farm wagons with canvas stretched over bent frames and then given a thick coat of paint to protect the passengers from storms. The Concord coach had a more elaborately built body and was hung on leather supports, which gave it a rolling motion. It was furnished with comfortable seating for six to eight passengers, but sometimes carried twice as many, inside and on the top. Trunks and baggage were carried at the rear in a "boot" and overflow baggage was put on the roof where a light iron rail held it in place. In their day the Concord coaches were considered first class stage travel.

It was not without its dangers and disasters. Sometimes a limb or a rib was broken but seldom a death. Drivers became skilled in their profession, and usually brought their passengers in safely. Edward Campau came to Grand Rapids from Detroit in 1839 at the age of fourteen. Two or three years later he began to drive stage on the Gull Prairie route to Battle Creek. One dark and stormy night, they broke an axle and the passengers had to walk about six miles through the mud and snow to the village of Ada.

Another time passenger Harvey Yale fell asleep and when a wheel sunk into a rut, the stage gave a lurch and landed him upon his head and shoulders in the mud. Gathering himself up he laughed with the rest of them, and resumed his seat.

It was incidents like these that old-time stage drivers loved to tell when relating their adventures. 

Full Details

KeywordsGlance at the Past, stagecoach, stagecoaches, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission
Pubdate StringJanuary 20th, 2010

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC