Friday, October 21, 2011

Debating Issues Over Stagecoach Travel

Annals of Albany by Joel Munsell, Vol.8 pp 86-87, Albany, 1857
                (The state of things in 1825)
  A writer in the papers signing himself A Traveller, complained of the unreasonable fare charged by the proprietors of the stages between Albany and Buffalo; the selection of indifferent and exorbitant houses of entertainment, and the refusal to permit passengers to stop at such other houses as they might prefer. 
  The proprietors in their reply maintained, that on no public road in the United States was the fare so low as on this; that in the New England states it was from seven to eight cents a mile, and west and south of Philadelphia from eight to ten; that before the opposition line came on between Canandaigua and Buffalo in 1820, the fare on that route was seven cents a mile; it was then reduced to two cents, and when the opposition hauled off, it was raised to five cents.   
   This was the only regular and established line of stages which had been maintained from the day when the route consisted only of an Indian path, to its present improved state. It was still difficult to keep up that part of the route between Canandaigua and Buffalo, the passengers for three years past not averaging more than three a day each way, and that a line of post coaches would not have been attempted there at all but for the assistance afforded by the eastern proprietors in order to connect and complete the entire line.
   The western section did not pay the daily expenses of maintaining it; that owing to increased travel during the past two years in boats of the middle section of the Erie canal, and from other causes, there had been a large number of passengers in stages between Albany and Utica, while between Utica and Canandaigua there had been less than four a day each way, and the Cherry Valley line "had been reduced to a mere skeleton."
  The whole number of of passengers between Albany and Utica in two daily stages, do not average six passengers in a stage each way; between Utica and Canandaigua less four each way in a daily stage; and between Canandaigua and Buffalo less than three each way, and the mail was carried as low as in any other part of the United States, and much lower than in most parts of it. About four hundred horses and a proportionate number of post coaches, were employed by this line, as the canal took a majority of the passengers in the summer west of Utica, the whole receipts very little exceeded the expenses. Without the mail, they would be unable to keep up the entire line, with new oppositions every year chopping in upon the most productive parts of the route. As to the exorbitant charges at houses of entertainment, they say that at Utica and all places west, the charges for meals was 37 1/2 cents, and 12 1/2 cents for lodging.

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