My sister mailed me this interesting newspaper nugget describing stagecoaches, stagecoach fares and travel via the Santa Fe Trail from “civilization” to “The Wild West” circa 1850:
“Crossing the plains from Independence, Mo., to New Mexico in the 1850′s cost $150 in the winter. Summer special rate was $125. Coaches with mail and passengers left Independence and Santa Fe the first day of each month. Usually they met at the Arkansas River crossing. Passengers were limited to 50 pounds of baggage. Any excess cost $.50 a pound.
“A second coach accompanied the mail-passenger vehicle. It carried baggage, supplies, feed for the mules and food for the passengers. Each coach had two drivers and six mules. The fare included food, but passengers had to help prepare meals. They also collected wood or buffalo chips with which to build the fire.”
A couple of asides: the trip could take from 8 to 10 weeks; that $150 would be $3,836 in 2008 dollars adjusted for inflation, and 160 years later, the same trip costs about $200 for a two-and-a-half-hour, one-stop flight from Kansas City to Albuquerque, with the added benefit that you don’t have to gather buffalo chips, build a smoky fire and cook your own meal. But … you still have to pay for extra baggage. The Santa Fe Trail is marked in red on the map (source: Wikipedia).
Clearing Customs, by Martha Egan (July 2009), is a new and rollicking good read! And a lot of it takes place in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
It is worthy noting that this story takes place in 1988-99, long before the Patriot Act’s privacy invasions became commonplace. The book’s protagonist and heroine is Beverly Parmentier, owner of a small Latin American folk aft and antiques importing store in Old Town.
How Beverly finds herself and her store under surveillance by U. S. Customs Service is a humorous happenstance of President Reagan’s Central American policies and a relentless and opportunistic Customs Service Albuquerque Station Chief. The story shifts into high gear from there and never lets up until the last pages.
Beverly (Martha) relates in detail her surveillance as the story careens from Albuquerque across the country. They include Customs Service employment of Vietnam Vets and taxpayer funded junkets to “surveil” Beverly from Albuquerque’s Old Town, North Valley, Santa Fe, Washington, D. C., a Colorado river raft trip, and a Caribbean island “getaway.” You’ll howl both in laughter and in anger, over the ineptness and relentlessness of the federales abuses of power. And then you will smile wickedly at the justice of the finale.
Lots of familiar territory and names and places throughout should make Clearing Customs a particularly enjoyable read to everyone familiar with Albuquerque, Santa Fe, New Mexico … or U. S. Customs.