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(Courtesy of Wes Baker)

In this scene from RIDERS OF THE DESERT (Sono Art-World Wide, 1932), Floyd "Silver Tip" Baker has the stage and team runnin' full speed while Bob Steele has the drop on him.


At The Reins ... The Drivers


Les Adams writes about the drivers of stages, wagons, et al:

Just about everybody was cast as a stage driver at some point ... nearly.  Bud Osborne, of course, more than any, but it is difficult to recognize the Yrigoyen brothers, George Plues, Post Park, Bob Woodward, Yakima Canutt, Cliff Lyons or Wally West who may have been at the reins when it came to stage races, crashes and other hazardous bits that the customary players did not do.  Several of the above such as Plues and Park had 'driving' as their speciality.

Aside from the above, the primary-cast players as drivers were: Hank Bell, Tex Cooper, Silver Tip Baker, Fred Burns, Bob Burns, Archie Ricks, Bud McClure, Tex Palmer, Jack Rockwell, Edmund Cobb, Glenn Strange, Cactus Mack McPeters, and Jack Kirk (who was probably second only to Osborne in terms of visibility).

Most of the ones mentioned in the first paragraph fall into the stunt men group.  The second paragraph list are familiar faces that did many other roles.

But all of them together drove a whole lot of stages. More than a whole lot.

Stage Driver kind of fell into two classes:

1. the Burns brothers, Jack Kirk, Hank Bell and others handled the reins in regular action.

2. George Plues, Post Park and other stunt drivers took the reins when fast action chases and maneuvering on cliffs and around curves were part of the script. They also handled a lot of driver roles such as when the stage had to accurately come to a stop in front of the local express office.




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is Lennie B. 'Bud' Osborne




(From Old Corral image collection)

One of Bud Osborne's most requested and remembered movie jobs --- driving a stage.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Bob Woodward, another member of the stunt brigade.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Hank Bell with Charles Starrett.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

From RAIDERS OF SAN JOAQUIN (Universal, 1943) - an unidentifed double for Johnny Mack Brown drops in for a visit on driver George Plues. Les Adams added an appropriate comment on this shot: "the people doing the rein work had to be good.  Check how close to the rock he had to get the team and wagon ... and they weren't walking."



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

At the reins is Bud McClure in the Johnny Mack Brown BOSS OF BULLION CITY (Universal, 1940).



(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Post Park, Jimmy Wakely and Milburn Morante in RIDIN' DOWN THE TRAIL (Monogram, 1947).  The arm-in-a-cast for Park was an excuse for Wakely to handle the reins, but if Jimmy got into trouble, Park was ready to take over.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Kirk (drivin' the wagon) while Roy Rogers has Yakima Canutt and Pascale Perry under his six-gun in this crop from a lobby card from BAD MAN OF DEADWOOD (Republic, 1941).  Among stuntman Yak's many talents was handling the reins of a wagon or stage.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - George Sowards is handling the reins of the stage in this still from an unidentified early 1950s western.



Elizabeth Larson's The Concord Coach website has all kinds of info on the stagecoach, and below are several websites that might be of interest:

The Wells Fargo website has info on their stagecoaches: https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/history/stagecoach/

More on the Abbot-Downing Concord Coach and Concord, New Hampshire: http://theconcordcoach.tripod.com/abbotdowning/

The Guided By History blog has info on the design and construction of stagecoach wheels: http://blog.wellsfargo.com/guidedbyhistory/2011/03/a_wheel_isnt_just_a_wheel.html



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