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The Yellowstone Park Coach

Ed Duren
Soda Springs, Idaho
The coach as it appeared originally in the Yellowstone Park sight-seeing tours.

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In 1958, Dr. Evan and Lois Kackley donated the Yellowstone Coach to the city of Soda Springs, Idaho. According to Dr. Kackley’s written letters to the city council he stated, “This particular coach was used to carry President Theodore Roosevelt and the great naturalists John Muir and John Burroughs on this well-publicized park tour in 1903. These three gentlemen were fathers of conservation in the United States.

The presidential entourage traveled with a U. S. Army Calvary escort stationed at the time in the Yellowstone area.”

The construction of stagecoaches began around 1824. Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, N.H., manufactured 40 types of carriages, but is remembered primarily for their western coaches, one of which is the Tally Ho. Stagecoaches were used for public transportation until the early 1900s. There was a large variation in coaches due to their intended uses. Concord coaches, mud wagons and the Tally Ho were all built with varied construction, with the same undercarriage of leather and of different sizes and weight.

The Yellowstone Nation Park was established in 1872. The Yellowstone Tally Ho is one of the early coaches used in the Park and is swing on leather, the same as the famous Concord coach. However, the Yellowstone coach was built open-sided with leather seats for passengers looking forward. There is black fringe around the top and no baggage compartment on the back. Four horses pulled the park coaches over short distances. Tour luggage was transported by light open wagons or buckboards. The Concord was heavier, enclosed with a baggage boot on the back, it required six horses to pull it, and could travel 10 to 15 miles between stage stops.

For eastern visitors, the park was reached by two routes. The more common route was by Union Pacific Railroad to Corinne, Utah, where they would go by stagecoach north to Bozeman or Virginia City, Mont. Wells Fargo & Company was one company that ran daily stages 438 miles to Virginia City. The less popular route was by the Missouri River to Fort Benton. These routes became shorter as the railroad expanded north to Eagle Rock (Idaho Falls) and over Monida Pass to the Red Rock Station. Park coaches were used to shuttle passengers from these over-land stage stops to the Mammoth Hotel at the north entrance to Yellowstone Park.

By 1909 the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company with yellow coaches was one of three major transportation companies operating in the park.

Regular tours of the park took five days at a cost of $40, which included meals and room. Those who wished to could stop over at other principal points and there join surrey or wagon parties to explore local features for an additional fee. The era of the park coaches lasted for 36 years, ending with the 1916 season after which the coaches went into storage and were later sold to private individuals.

In the summer of 2004, the City of Soda Springs Council contracted Dar Weaver to restore the coach. During that fall the Soda Springs Bingo Committee provided funds and hired Lotts Builders to construct an enclosed shelter in the city park for displaying the coach. The north wall is covered with Yellowstone Park scenes painted by Neva Harrison.

In 2005, the Soda Springs Bingo Committee financed the construction of a display barn to house the Yellowstone Park Touring Coach. Five 4-by-7-foot paintings of Yellowstone Park scenes have been mounted on the back wall. The bingo players named the display barn the Tally-Ho Coach House, which has been donated to the city of Soda Springs and located in the Corrigan adjacent to U.S. Highway 30.

A special thanks goes out to all the Soda Springs Bingo players that made this project become reality.


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