The rip-roaring tale of the one and only Concord Coach
To many the Concord Coach is the symbol of the Old West. It took its name from the city, and went on to star in countless Westerns, conjuring up images of adventure.
But the iconic coach was built right here in Concord, New Hampshire, by Abbot-Downing. Created in the 1820s, the Concord Coaches cost over $1,000 a princely sum in the day, and carried six to 12 passengers. The idea came from coach builder J. Stephen Abbott and wheelwright Lewis Downing. The cost of the coach was worth it, as its thorough-brace suspension system made travel possible – A swaying ride and a thorough-brace suspension eased the coach, making travel tolerable on bad roads and the good ride attracted more passengers. Soon, the Concord Coach tamed harsh roads and linked far-flung towns to the railroads. It linked America.
Abbot-Downing built several variants, and shipped its coaches as far as Australia, South America, and South Africa.
The Concord Coaches were tall and handsome; handmade and weighed 2,500 pounds. The big wheels allowed them to get through uneven roads and mud. Mark Twain wrote about it:
Our coach was a great swinging and swaying stage, of the most sumptuous description — an imposing cradle on wheels. It was drawn by six handsome horses, and by the side of the driver sat the ‘conductor,’ the legitimate captain of the craft; for it was his business to take charge and care of the mails, baggage, express matter, and passengers. We sat on the back seat, inside. About all the rest of the coach was full of mailbags — for we had three days’ delayed mails with us… We changed horses every ten miles, all day long, and fairly flew over the hard, level road.
The coach that tamed the West, star of so many great Westerns, and an icon all of its own, was made in downtown Concord. And a few can still be seen in Concord today:
Concord Monitor lobby
1 Monitor Dr, Concord, NH 03301
Johnny Prescott & Son Museum (call ahead)
122 Airport Rd
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
The Concord Group Insurance Companies (call ahead)
4 Bouton St, Concord, NH 03301