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The Concord Coach

The Concord Coach
 
Built high and wide to handle the rough, rutted roads of a new country, the design of a classic American vehicle was perfected in Concord, New Hampshire. Carriage builder J. Stephens Abbot and master wheelwright Lewis Downing built the famed stagecoaches of Wells Fargo & Co.

The curved frame of the body gave it strength, and perhaps a little extra elbow room. Perfectly formed, fitted, and balanced wheels stood up to decades of drenching mountain storms and parching desert heat. The unique feature of these coaches was the suspension. Instead of steel springs, the coach body rested on leather “thoroughbraces,” made of strips of thick bullhide. This feature spared the horses from jarring and gave the stagecoach a (sometimes) gentle rocking motion, leading Mark Twain to call it, “An imposing cradle on wheels.” (Roughing It, 1870)

Concord Coaches weighed about 2,500 pounds, and cost $1,100 each, including leather and damask cloth interior.

Wells Fargo is fortunate to be able to display original Abbot-Downing Concord Coaches in the Wells Fargo History Museums and Exhibits across the country. Each coach was given a number by the Abbot-Downing factory and carries with it its own story.