The winner of an upcoming Pike County Historical Society raffle will be treated to a ride through town in a historic Hiawatha Stagecoach with up to five guests. Then they can sit down to a three-course dinner presented by costumed servers in the Columns Museum’s Lincoln Room.
The “Hiawatha” is a Concord Coach and was considered the “Cadillac of coaches” in its time. The Hiawatha has the serial number “105”, which places it in 1857 for its year of construction. There were approximately 3,000 built and Hiawatha remains one of very few that have survived. The Concord Coaches were a great technological improvement over crude wagons of the day - but still a bone jarring experience when traversing the rough terrain coaches often travelled. Most Concord Coaches saw service east of the Mississippi.
The coaches were used widely by resorts and hotels to transport folks to and from train stations. Such was the case of Hiawatha when it was used to transport people who arrived via the Erie Line in Port Jervis. Earlier documentation suggests that the Hiawatha was originally operated by the Honesdale and Erie Railroad to provide passenger service between Honesdale and Susquehanna, Pa. After the line was abandoned John Findlay of Milford took over the coach and the stage line between Port Jervis and Milford. The stage was also used to deliver the U.S. Mail and in conjunction with a local Wells Fargo Express Agency.
The coach was a familiar site in Milford for many years and ran well into the 20th century. It could accommodate up to 22 passengers; 12 people inside, 8 on the top, and a driver and a brakeman.
In the spring of 2019, the Pike County Historical Society started a campaign to have the Hiawatha restored to its original colors and the running gear repaired. The coach was ultimately completely restored.
The Hiawatha is now cherry red - its original color - with yellow running gear, new seats and straps and completely road worthy once again. PCHS used a reproduction of an original Frank E. Schoonover painting for the emblem on the coach doors. The painting depicts an Ojibwa Indian as his paddle silently cuts the water - perhaps the inspiration for the name” Hiawatha” is directly related to the 1855 publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. The stage was built just about the time this epic poem was published.
Raffle tickets are $50 each and only 100 will be sold. Proceeds will offset the costs of appropriate care and maintenance of the newly restored Hiawatha Stagecoach.
The excursion date is October 19, with the Hiawatha departing the Columns Museum at 5 p.m. The horses and driver will be provided by Brookvalley Farm, a family owned, and operated farmstead in the Fall Brook valley just west of Carbondale in Northeast PA. They have been providing quality horse drawn carriage and wagon services and pony rides since 2009. Dinner will be three courses, with wine presented in the Lincoln Room of the Museum.
The coaches were used widely by resorts and hotels to transport folks to and from train stations. Such was the case of Hiawatha when it was used to transport people who arrived via the Erie Line in Port Jervis.