The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 459
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mountains. The quickest and most comfortable way to traverse it is by
air. Of the various types of surface transportation used by man, the
stagecoach was probably the least satisfactory, and it surpassed walking
only because it was normally faster. Western patrons of these vehicles
invariably became great boosters of the railroad; even a short trip by
coach dramatized the need for better transportation facilities.
Moody's volume is described by the publisher as "the story of the
frontier express lines that linked the nation together." That the linkage
was extremely loose and of a transitional nature is demonstrated here,
as it is in other volumes on the subject. In a country where tradi-
tional water routes were missing, except for the shallow, shifting
Missouri River (called "the harlot" because it changed beds so often)
and where settlement was too sparse to induce railroads or even to
support stage lines properly, the western stage lines were indeed a
gossamer web that provided only the most tenuous kind of a con-
Much of this latest volume deals with western wheeled transpor-
tation generally, that is, the freight lines as well as express and pas-
senger facilities. While there is a natural association between the horse-
drawn freight and passenger business, the author might well have
minimized the former, covered so thoroughly by W. Turrentine Jack-
son, Henry Pickering Walker, and others, in order that he be allowed
enough space to deal more in depth with those stage lines he merely
The stage and freight lines, temporary and transitory as they were,
filled a gap caused by the rapidity of the westward thrust. Their story
was brief, lusty, of a decidedly frontier nature, and therefore it has
been passed on to us in a romantic cast. Not enough has been done to
probe more in detail. The present volume does not purport to add
any new facets to, the story, but rather to sum up and generalize the
saga of stagecoach days. The book is apparently intended for general
reading. Those familiar with the field of western history will not find
in it much that is new to, them, nor will they be satisfied with the
general lack of documentation. However, since these people are in a
decided minority, this should not be taken as criticism. Rather, we
should thank the author for recognizing the fact that this is indeed
a field for further exploration and for reminding us again of this some-
times forgotten "old trails West," to quote the title of his earlier work.
University of Colorado
ROBERT G. ATHEARN
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/509/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.