Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Monticello & Burnside Stagecoach

When the stagecoach era in Kentucky came to an end in 1915, the last route to be in op­eration was the Monticello to Burnside route. Since Wayne County did not have direct access to a railroad, it greatly helped them reach the one at Burnside.

The cost to ride Charles H. Burton's stagecoach was $1.50. There was room for nine passengers inside and approximately five on top, plus the driver. Baggage was carried on the rear of the coach. Coming from the Burnside Depot back to Monticello, four horses would pull the stagecoach to the Cumberland River and onto a ferry, which carried them across it to a rest stop near Frazier, where the horses or mules were switched for a fresh team. From there, it was on to Monticello. The whole trip took four to six hours. It is said that during one hard winter the river froze solid immobiliz­ing the ferry boat, but knowing the mail-must go through, the driver daringly drove across the ice and on to Monti­cello.

Charles Burton's stagecoach was built in 1895 by the Abbott and Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. He bought it for $1,000 in 1901 from J.B. "Buck" Barbee who operated a stagecoach line from Campbellsville to Columbia. Decades late it was sold at auction for almost $39,000 to Kenneth Ballou of Burkesville, who sold it to Wells Fargo Bank in California for $85,000.

Artist Fred Thrasher painted a fine likeness of the Burton stagecoach as it ferried the Cumberland River in a popular print he titled 'Crossing the Cumberland.'

For the record, the Burton Stagecoach was not the only stagecoach to operate in our area. James Tuggle and his son, Jeremiah, also ran a successful stagecoach service from Monticello to Burnside.

* Some info taken from a 1969 article written by John Hockersmith in the Happy Hunting Ground magazine.

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