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First Madera stage raised ruckus in Fresno Flats

For The Madera Tribune

Stage coach travel from Madera to the mountains began from this spot in 1879.


The very first stagecoach from Madera to the mountains set out on May 4, 1879, transporting tourists to Yosemite. On its way the stage had to stop in Fresno Flats (present day Oakhurst). The entire town turned out to give the entourage a real mountain welcome, as the long expected opening of the route from Madera brought locals almost to the point of frenzy.

Anticipation of the new stage travel through Fresno Flats began to build when the first news of the building of the Yosemite Road caused a stir in November 1877, just a year after the founding of Madera. Residents of Fresno Flats were delighted. They knew that hordes of tourists would bring economic benefit to their community. At the same time, however, the new road attracted considerable attention in the towns of Merced and Mariposa, but without the euphoria exhibited in Fresno Flats. Citizens in these latter places realized that Fresno Flats would gain at their expense.

Although the road was intended to run from Yosemite to the coast, via Madera, it never made it that far. Residents of Fresno Flats, however, did not care. Their interests lay in the eastern portion of the proposed road. By Aug. 14, 1878, forty men were working on the upper section, which ran from Big Tree Station to Fresno Flats, and the citizenry was delighted. Every mile of new road spread smiles throughout the Flats.


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