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Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Owego, Elmira, & Bath Stage Coach

A typical stage coach of the time
by Diane Janowski
©2008 All rights reserved by the author

Almost two hundred years ago in Elmira, New York there was an inn at 206-208 Baldwin Street that was a stage coach stop. In 1820, the “Owego, Elmira, and Bath Stage Coach Company” provided transportation services much like today’s bus lines.

In 1819, the Elmira inn was the “hotel stopover” for the Owego, Elmira, and Bath Stage Coach Company. The O W & B was part of a larger system of travel through the northeast. It was a 76-mile piece of a traveler’s puzzle that stretched from the northeast states to New York City to Angelica, New York in the “west” with connections north and south along the way. New York City to Angelica via the O E & B line was 316 miles and took about 5 days.

Getting to Elmira was a rough trip though. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, a west-bound stage coach loaded with passengers and mail left  Owego, New York at 6AM, stopped for lunch in Athens, Pennsylvania and arrived in Elmira at 6PM just in time for dinner. This was the evening stopover. The Elmira inn does not have a recorded name but served meals and gave lodging to those in need. The next morning travelers awoke early, ate a hearty breakfast then got back on the coach at 6AM, stopped for a lunch in Painted Post, New York, and arrived in downtown Bath, New York at 6PM. Not bad for a 36-hour trip and only 76 miles.

Going the other way, east-bound travelers left Bath at 4AM on Tuesdays and Saturdays, arrived in Elmira at 6PM. I can’t explain the extra two hours traveling east. The next morning the stage left Elmira at 4AM and arrived in Owego at 6PM. There’s another extra two hours that I can’t explain - must be a time difference or else they spent more time eating lunch.

The Elmira inn was made of red brick and was a beautiful example of Colonial architecture. At some time in the late nineteenth century an extension to the rear was added to accommodate visiting actors and actresses of the Mozart Theatre around the corner. Apparently, many hotels at the time barred thespians as boarders. In the twentieth century the building was known as the “Mozart Bungalow” - a hotel for actors and actresses who played at the Mozart Theatre around the corner on East Market Street.

The building was razed around 1940. Most recently the site was the New York State Employment building.


Owego Elmira & Bath
Mail Stage (Twice A Week)

This line will commence running twice a week, after the 1st of April next, --Days of starting and arrival as follows:

---Leave Owego on Tuesdays & Saturdays, at 6 am & breakfasting at Athens, arrive at Elmira at 6 pm.
---Leave Elmira on Wednesdays and Sundays, at 4 am and breakfasting at Painted Post, arrive at Bath at 6 pm.

---Leave Bath on Tuesdays & Saturdays, at 4 am and breakfasting at Painted Post, arrive at Elmira at 6 pm.
---Leave Elmira on Wednesdays and Sundays at 4 am and breakfasting at Athens, arrive at Owego at 6 pm.

This line of stages intersects the Newburg and Canandaigua line at Owego--the Southern line, at Tioga Point--and the Geneva line at Bath----at which latter place it also intersects a line leading directly to Angelica, situate about 30 miles from Olean, one of the places of embarkation on the Allegany river, and about 18 miles from Oil Creek, the nearest place of embarkation, and which empties into the Allegany at Olean; at which place boats of any size are always kept ready for travelers, for the purpose of descending the Ohio River.

Persons traveling from New York, or from any of the Eastern States, to the S. W. States, will find this the shortest, cheapest, and most expeditious route.  The distance from New York, via Owego, Painted Post and Bath, to Angelica, is 316 miles, which is performed in about 5 days.

Good teams and careful drivers will be kept on the route, and no pains spared to accommodate passengers.  The Stage horses are good.

S. B. LEONARD - March 30, 1819

A daily stage (Sunday excepted) operated between Cuba and Rushford from about (162.  ?probably 1862) It left Rushford for Cuba at 5:30 a.m. arrived in Cuba for the 8:34 a.m. express west. It left Cuba on arrival of the mail train at 3:24 pm, reached Rushford at 6:45 pm. This stage coach apparently delivered the mail from the Rawson Post Office. Lyndon residents received their mail from the Rawson Post Office. At one time each resident took their turn carrying the mail from Rawson to the Lyndon Post Office. Sometime it was carried on horseback.

Owego Gazette, Owego (NY), January 24, 1826

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