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July 19, 2011

Stage Coach Lines in the Sacramento Area

    James E Virch, who formerly drove a stage coach in Rhode Island, came with his betrothed to Sacramento to seek his fortune in the stage coach business in 1849. No stage coach company existed before, only individuals who may, if sober, provide buck board transportation. The first route was from Sacramento to Coloma following the river route by Mormon Island. In 1851 James sold out for several thousand dollars and returned to Rhode Island to get married. James rolling stock and horses were valued at over one million dollars by 1854 and yet James was only 24 years old!

    With respect to the east-to-west stage coach system, James filled the gaps in the route from Saint Joseph Missouri to the west coast. James competed with Butterfield and Overland companies in 1855 for government contracts to carry US mail via stage coach; James Bucannon was corrupt and Butterfield being familiar with greasing government wheels was awarded the mail contract.

    James then established a southern route from Houston and New Orleans to San Diego where passengers/cargo were further distributed by boat from there. James, having made his fortune by stage coaches embarked on a voyage back to the east coast and on 07SEP1857 died at 29 years old worth three million dollars when the ship he was on sank, possibly sunk in shallow waters by pirates.

    Frank Stevens, James' partner, established the California Stage Company and also built stage coaches.

    Henry Wells and frank Fargo got into stage coaches in Sacramento in 1857 by hauling freight, not people, and by 1858 began a passenger business also.

    Shanks Mare (walking) was the only way to travel between San Francisco, then the largest city in California, and Sacramento, then the second largest city in California; there were no bridges, therefore the only was to cross rivers was to pay to cross on little barges.

    There was no stage coach service between San Diego and Los Angles; had James Virch not died, San Diego would have likely out grown Los Angeles.

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire