Skinners

Car, horse and buggy being transported by barge in the summer.

Car, horse and buggy being transported by barge in the summer.

skinners sleighStage drivers were called skinners and had names like “Dummy” Coghland, “Hard Face” Ned Reeves and Joe MacDonald “The High Priest”. They wore raccoon coats tied with a long red sash and soft buckskin gloves; when it was cold they sometimes held the reins with one hand and pounded the other hand against their shoulders to keep up the circulation. According to one traveler, passengers were expected to “carry enough overproof rum to keep the drivers happy with hot rums in the long evenings”.

White Pass employed as many as 275 horses in a season on the stage line. They were fed imported bran mash, oats and timothy hay – native hay wasn’t considered to have enough nourishment. Horses wore protectors over their chests and nostrils against the cold and had metal devices called caulks welded to their shoes for traction. Each horse had its number stamped on a front hoof and every horse had a name.

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