Stagecoach History

Stagecoach History & The Abbot Downing Company

Abbot Downing 9-Passenger Concord StagecoachS&R Stageworks, Inc. proudly specializes in reproducing the Abbot Downing 9-passenger Concord Stagecoach. This was the heavy duty Abbot Downing model used throughout the country from the 1800’s well into the 1900’s.

The Abbot Downing Company was originally located in Concord, New Hampshire and was a product of J.S. Abbot and Lewis Downing. The company was a very diverse organization and during their existence as a major manufacturer of horse drawn vehicles, they produced a variety of different types. Some of those models include the 9-passenger and 12-passenger stagecoaches, oil/fuel tankers, water wagons, hitch wagons, celerity wagons, buggies, and many others. When the horseless carriage started to appear, Abbot Downing even attempted the truck manufacturing business.

The Concord Stagecoaches built by Abbot Downing were primarily used for hauling passengers, freight, and mail between major cities and from coast to coast locations. When the locomotive came into existence as a major form of transportation, the stagecoach began to see less use but was still very much active in ferrying passengers and their cargo to adjacent towns and other locations that were not serviced by the railway system.

Thourough Brace Stagecoach SuspensionThe Abbot Downing stagecoach is very unique in that the suspension system consists of the coach body riding on leather strapping called thorough braces. Very few other horse drawn vehicles have this characteristic. The stagecoach has two doors, one on either side of the body, with each door having a “pocket window” which could be slid up or down depending on the weather. The corner windows typically had leather curtains which could be rolled down if necessary.

The interior seating was dependent on the model. The 9-passenger model had a center jump seat with a “lazy back” rest, capable of seating 3 persons. Often times, passengers rode on top of the stagecoach as well. Operation of the stagecoach was managed by one driver in control of a team of 4 or 6 horses or mules. Depending on the route and/or the possibility for hostility during travels, a “shotgun-messenger” could often be seen sitting to the left of the driver.

Stagecoaches have predominately been an American icon and symbol of the “Old West”, but it is important to take note that Abbot Downing shipped many of their stagecoaches outside of the US and its territories to locations in South America and abroad.

The original stagecoaches that were built by Abbot Downing are rare and hard to find. Quality reproductions, such as those built by S&R Stageworks, Inc., are usually seen mainly in parades, private collections, museums, and exclusive ranches. Highly costly, quality reproductions will not likely be seen in theme parks or the like providing rides for the public.