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Robbers posed threat to stagecoach passengers

For The Madera Tribune

The Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company, headed by Henry Washburn, operated stages to Yosemite from Madera and later from the town of Raymond. The drivers were, of necessity, a rough and ready bunch. Not only did they face the perils of navigating the winding dirt roads to the mountains, they had to face the ever-present danger of meeting highwaymen along the way. Among the best of the drivers was Sam Owens, who is pictured here circa 1885, in the middle of the first row of drivers.


Soon after the California Lumber Company founded Madera in 1876, another corporate venture was launched which proved to be indispensable to the growth of the fledgling town. 

The Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company was organized to transport tourists to the Yosemite Valley via Madera, and for more than a dozen years it completed its task with ease. The carriages were large and comfortable, given the conditions of the day, and the trips were completed with few mishaps, most of the time. 

Occasionally, however, the passengers received more than they bargained for. Sometimes they fell prey to human scavengers who hid in the hills, poised to swoop down on any unsuspecting party and relieve them of their valuables. Such was the case with a group of Yosemite Valley visitors in June 1885. 



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