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Determining the Facts

Reading 1: “Tossed in a Blanket”

Stagecoach travel along rough roads led some travelers to compare it to being “tossed in a blanket”, with travelers often hitting their heads on the roof of the coach. Short journeys over rough roads often left travelers physically exhausted.

A traveler from Columbus, Ohio to Frederick, Maryland described an incident during her journey. 

“The horses appeared to fly and we were but just able to keep our seats, while in such rapid motion. The lady with us could not keep still, but would bound from side to side with such force, her husband was obligated to hold her with all his strength…”


Another traveler described a similar journey while crossing the Allegheny Mountains in 1847. 

“The comparative emptiness of our extensive vehicle had but one manifest inconvenience-namely, that it greatly increased the difficulty of keeping ourselves in our places. It was impossible for one moment, to lose sight of the absolute necessity for holding on, without being punished for our temporary negligence in a most signal manner. The great object was to prevent our heads coming in contact with the roof of the carriage, when any particularly violent jolt threw us with merciless force into the air…to be obliged to hold on with all our force to the seat, throughout the livelong day, for fear of having our heads knocked in, was rather too much of a traveling inconvenience. We suffered from nothing but great fatigue…I find no difficulty in believing all the stories of concussion of the brain and other frightful misadventures connected with traveling across the mountains.”
Questions for Reading 1:
  1. What difficulties faced the early travelers on stagecoaches?
  1. What aspect of the journey would you have found to be most challenging?
  1. How do you think you would have felt when you finished a rough trip by stagecoach?
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