• Cheryl Anne Stapp

Hall & Crandall's Stage Lines

Many New England stagemen, whose livelihoods there were being steadily squeezed by the railroads, followed thousands of bedazzled gold rushers out west to establish the first public overland transportation in California.

Among those seasoned entrepreneurs were brothers Warren and William Hall and their partner, Jared Crandall. Forced to either give up staging or find work outside of New England, the trio had been operating a stage service in Mexico when word of the sensational Gold Rush reached them. They pooled their resources and headed north in 1849. In the early spring of 1850 Hall & Crandall purchased an existing San Jose-to-San Francisco stage line. Immediately, they began improving the stock and equipment, as well as establishing more stations along the route. The following year, they added an additional route from San Jose to Monterey, received a coveted, lucrative contract to deliver the U.S. mail, and operated an in-city service with an hourly omnibus between San Francisco’s city plaza and the Mission Delores.

Profitable as they were on the coast, however, the partners were not immune to perceived greater golden opportunities in the interior’s new boomtown settlements: Sacramento, Marysville, and other points north and east. Shasta City had become a wealthy mining town and an important commercial hub for outlying camps. While still maintaining their San Francisco-San Jose lines, in May 1852 Hall & Crandall simultaneously established daily stages from Colusa to Shasta, and another line from Marysville to Shasta— with the Shasta-Marysville route terminating in Sacramento.

In 1853 they sold their San Jose stage and their San Francisco omnibus service, and continued to prosper inland, frequently lauded in the press for their well-managed lines, fine horses and beautiful Concord coaches. The partners were experienced stagemen, but not all of a stage proprietor’s misfortunes arose from ordinary road hazards. In June, 1853, their extensive yards and barns at Shasta City were destroyed by a disastrous fire that consumed seventy of the town’s buildings. The next month, however, they announced extended summer arrangements to gold towns on the Feather River, the Yuba River, and another near Nevada City.

Hall & Crandall were in business as independent stageline owners in California for four years. In May, 1854, the principles announced the amicable dissolution of their co-partnership, the absorption of their lines into James Birch’s California Stage Company, and Warren F. Hall’s appointment as a trustee of Birch’s new organization.

© 2019 by Cheryl Anne Stapp. 

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