By Tim Leeds
A piece of American history will parade through Havre Saturday, thanks to officers at a local bank.
A replica of an 1880 Wells Fargo Concord Coach the company used to transport gold, mail and passengers travel the Festival Days' Parade course through downtown Havre. The replica was constructed in Concord, N.H., the same as the original it is modeled after.
"It'll be a wonderful addition to the parade," said Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
Cindy Knutson of the Wells Fargo Bank Havre office said the company has 10 original Concord coaches and 20 replicas. They are touring the country this year for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company, and the Havre bank requested the visit for Festival Days.
Vandeberg congratulated the Havre bank for being able to get a commitment for the parade.
The service that used the coach began in 1858, when the Overland Mail Company, which Wells Fargo served as western developer, completed its first run. It provided semi-weekly service on a 2,700 mile route from St. Louis to San Francisco.
Wells Fargo provided the West's most extensive stagecoach network by 1866. It had routes through Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Idaho.
The coaches, manufactured by Abbot-Downing in Concord, were painted red and gold, with wheels and running gear painted a bright straw yellow. The coaches had a hand-painted mural depicting the area of the country the coach served.
Wells Fargo stagecoaches averaged about five miles an hour, pulled by teams of four or six horses. A shotgun rider accompanied the driver, protecting the passengers and cargo carried by the coach.
The horses were changed at stations every 12 miles, with meal stops for the passengers every 45 miles. The passengers slept on the coaches, which traveled 24 hours a day.
The coaches could carry 18 people nine inside and nine, including the driver, outside.