Last to be loaded in South Dakkota and first to be unloaded in Greenbush was the shining, glossy and wonderfully detailed red coach body.
Commissioned by the museum, Doug Hansen of Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop built and delivered the stagecoach all the way from his home in Letcher, South Dakota. The coach is in the style of Eastern coaches in the mid-1800s. Specifically it is based upon the coaches of Abbott Downing of Concord, New Hampshire. The coach is an elegant bright red with flourishes of scrollwork and a seascape depicting a pair of sailing ships. Proudly emblazed across the stagecoach top are the old plank road end points: Sheboygan and Fond du Lac.
The stagecoach's trip from South Dakota was eventful for the coachmaker being stopped for an entire day by a blizzard, setting the original arrival date back from Friday to Saturday. Great care was taken not to scratch the paint job which took hundreds of hours to complete. There were specially-built dollies, packing blankets and yes, bubble wrap on particularly vulnerable parts. The coach weighting 2,200 pounds was treated like it was a Fabrege egg.
Removing the front wheels and axle was a task quickly accomplished.
The plan had been to move the stagecoach in three pieces, the coach, the front axle and the gear. The gear is the undercarriage which connects the axles and supports the coach. The gear minus front axle was planned to enter through the museum doorway standing on end in the safety of a specially designed pair of dollies, but the plan was abandoned when the configuration proved to be about an inch larger than the door height. The rear wheels were removed to lessen the weight and muscle power was used instead of the dollies. After all the pieces were inside the coach was carefully raised and gently set atop the gears. The coach was then connected to the undercarriage and suspended by large leather straps which serve as the vehicle's springs. The whole reassembly process took just a shade under two hours. It was later that morning rolled onto a wooden platform designed to look like the plank road which would have been the thoroughfare passing in front of the stagecoach inn which still stand on the state park grounds. It is an unbelievably beautiful stagecoach. You should plan to see it and the new carriage museum this summer. This article was originally published in the Depot Dispatch, May 2013.
Wheels are removed and the running gear is carried by hand into the building.
After the rear wheels were replaced, the gear was pinned to the front and rolled into place under the coach, which had been jacked up high enough to permit the whole undercarriage to pass underneath. The coach was then carefully lowered into place.
Coachmaker, Doug Hansen, buckles the large leather strap to the leather thoroughbraces, which serves as the coach's suspension system.