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Tips from the Old West

Stagecoach Etiquette

An 1877 issue of the Omaha Bee carried an article on stagecoach etiquette, offering tips to make journeys more pleasant. Here are a few.

  • “Don't smoke a strong pipe inside especially early in the morning; spit on the leeward side of the coach.”
  • “If you have anything to take in a bottle, pass it around; a man who drinks by himself in such a case is lost to all human feeling.”
  • In the event of a breakaway team, passengers should “sit still and take your chances; if you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt.”
  • “Never attempt to fire a gun or pistol while on the road; it may frighten the team and the carless handling and cocking of the weapon makes nervous people nervous.”
Let's try to remember these things. No need making the nervous people nervous.

More Stagecoach Rules

STAGECOACH RIDER RULES

Here's a list that Wells Fargo used to post for stagecoach riders.

  • Abstinence from liquor is requested. If you must drink, share your bottle; otherwise you will appear selfish and unneighborly.
  • If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking pipes or cigars, as the odor is repugnant to their frail temperament. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it.
  • Gentlemen must refrain from using rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
  • Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
  • Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow. He may not understand and friction may result.
  • Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
  • In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians, and hungry coyotes.
  • Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
  • Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It's a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.
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