Friday 24 January 2020

Stagecoach budget travel?

Sir -- Reading recently The Wild West from Warner Books, I came across a paragraph that caught my eye. In 1860 the stagecoach had become the primary means of land transportation between Missouri and the West Coast of the United States. Wells, Fargo and Company, which got the start in California in 1852 was the largest stagecoach outfit in the West.

It was very successful west of Salt Lake City but could make little progress east of that point, because it kept running head on into a man named Ben Holladay, one of the West's larger than life figures. Holladay ran a virtual stagecoach monopoly between Missouri and Salt Lake City and operated other routes all the way to Oregon.

In business, Holladay was ruthless and rapacious, continually expanding his stagecoach empire by attacking smaller companies. His technique was to establish a rival service along a given route and carry passengers for one-tenth of the going fare. After he grabbed all the business along the route and the competition had folded he would raise the fares and cut back on the routes.

Holladay cared nothing for the comfort of his passengers. His orders to his drivers were "Pack-em in! Pack-em in like sardines".

As my hobby is genealogy, I'm checking if one of Ben Holladay's ancestors was connected to the Michael O'Leary clan (of Ryanair fame).

Alfie C Deehan,

Athenry, Co Galway

Sunday Independent

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