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Payment of Toll Was Evaded. - As might be expected many attempts were made to evade the payment of toll. Travelers, familiar with the country, would sometimes detour when approaching a toll gate. Church-goers were frequently more numerous than church attendants, and there were more funerals than deaths. Laws were passed whereby one could be severely punished for such an offense as evading the payment of toll, and every tollgate keeper was authorized to arrest one suspected of attempting it.
After the care of the National Road was given over to the commissioners of the Counties through which it passed, other forms of revenue for its maintenance were found, and the toll gates were gradually removed.
Stagecoach Days on the National Road
To the Guernsey county people in the settlements along the National Road, the arrival of the stagecoach was the leading event of the day. They would gather at the station to see it come in, and to learn from the passengers, perhaps, some late news of the outside world.
What the Coaches Were Like.-The coaches were gorgeous affairs. Rival stage lines tried to outdo each other in painting and decorations on the outside of their coaches. The inside was lined with silk plush. The coach body rested upon broad, thick leather straps. This caused a gentle rocking. Within were three seats, each of which would hold three passengers. Beside the driver on a high outside seat an additional passenger could ride. In favorable weather this position was sought, as it enabled one to get a good view of the country.
Stagecoaches had names painted on their sides. Some of these were names of famous men, of cities and of states; others were fanciful, like those of Pullman cars today. At each end of the coach was a boot in which baggage and mail were carried.
The Stage Drivers.-Stage drivers considered their calling higher than that of the wagoners. As a rule the drivers were loquacious and witty. Their acquaintance was large. To the boy along the road a stage driver was his hero, just as some baseball or football player may be the hero of a boy today. The ambition of many a youngster was some day to drive a stagecoach and emulate his hero.
One of the local stage drivers was Archie McNeil whose father was a blacksmith at the Sarchet salt-works on Wills creek, north of Cambridge. Archie's love of horses and his ambition to be a stage driver would often bring him into town. On such occasions he would spend his time about the stage stations. By volunteering to hold horses and run errands he soon became acquainted with the drivers. Occasionally he was permitted to ride on the high seat with a driver to the end of a division and to return with another driver. Gradually he learned to handle the reins himself and, when given a regular position, he had realized his youthful ambition. He drifted eastward and became one of the best known drivers on the National Road. The stage driver on his high seat, with his hands full of reins, felt his portance as he dashed into a town, especially if he carried some noted person. Like that of a motor-bus driver today his run was over a division.
NATIONAL ROAD STAGECOACH In 1840 the Good Intent Line ran its stages through Cambridge from Columbus to Wheeling in twenty hours. The Mail Pilot Line advertised that its stages would leave Columbus daily at 6 A.M., reach Zanesville at I P.M., and Wheeling at 6 A.M. next day, through in twenty-four hours, allowing five hours for repose at St. Clairsville. Within each stage were seats for nine passengers. Horses were changed about every twelve miles. Drivers were rewarded for making fast time. Sylvester Root, who died in Washington, Guernsey county, in 1878, drove a four-horse stage from Washington to Cambridge, a distance of nine miles, in thirty-two minutes. He was presented with a driver's horn by the stage company for
making the best time on the line which extended from Washington City to Cincinnati. The occasion for speed was the delivery of President Van Buren's message.
GREYHOUND BUS In 1940 the Greyhound Bus Line was running its motor
coaches through Cambridge from Columbus to Wheeling in four and one-
half hours. The time between Cambridge and Baltimore was thirteen hours.
A bus could carry forty passengers.
Stage Companies.-Stagecoaches were not operated by private individuals but
by companies as are bus lines today. The largest line through Guernsey
county was the National Road Stage Company, with headquarters at
Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Its principal rival was the Good Intent Line.
Then there were the National Stage Company, with headquarters at
Columbus, Ohio, the Neil, Moore and Company, and other lines. There was
much competition amongst the different companies. New inventions and
appliances that might add to the comfort of the passengers were quickly
installed and advertised. Speed was the main end sought and for this the
drivers were held responsible. Making slow time was one of the greatest
offenses a driver could commit.
Stagecoach stations were located at taverns. On account of the rivalry each
line had its own station. The two leading ones in Cambridge were the
Hutchison tavern that stood on the site of the National hotel, and the Metcalf
tavern at the lower end of Wheeling avenue. All lines did not have the same
division points, as some changed horses at Middletown and other places in
Guernsey county.
Stage Schedules.-According to a stagecoach schedule the time between
Cambridge and Washington was one hour. The Good Intent Line advertised
that its coaches would leave Columbus for Wheeling daily, at one P.M.,
through in twenty hours, reaching Wheeling in time to connect with the
stages for Baltimore and Philadelphia. This was not a continuous run, as
time was taken out for repose.