Although much romanticized by Hollywood, actual stagecoach travel was far from glamorous. These snippets from the archives of the San Diego Historical Society depict the true story:
The inconveniences of our modern modes of travel are nothing compared to what passengers in the 1800's endured when traveling on bad roads in harsh weather which often made the stage coach run an exciting experience. The San Diego Union reported a typical incident in February, 1883:
"Frank Frary, who drove the Julian stage in last evening, says that when he started yesterday morning the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane from the east and northeast. The stage swayed so violently in the gale, that fearful that it would capsize, he and the two passengers piled two or three hundred pounds of rocks into the vehicle as ballast, which they carried until the grade had been passed."
Katie Leng offered insight to our modern world about stagecoach travel in a 1972 interview for the San Diego Historical Society. Leng, whose uncle ran Foster's Station, recalled the stages were:
" . . . miserable things to ride in. Let me say that the stage coaches galloping along in the Western movies always upset me, because it wasn't that way at all. The horses were trotted, with frequent breathers. Also, there was only one man on the box, and I never knew of any of them being armed. They wore any sort of clothing they wanted to, nothing flamboyant. We never had a hold-up. The only real tragedy I ever heard of was once, before my time, a driver was leading his team across a usually dry wash and was caught by a flash flood and drowned."