Stagecoach crosses Oklahoma again

Saturday, March 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

They'll travel 1,400 miles in 63 days and Friday night they were in Green Country. It's an old west stagecoach crew and KOTV's Sean Mossman spent some time with the cowboys.

This is a trip back to the old west. Not just the horses and spurs, but the men and their nineteenth century attitudes. All on their way to sacred cowboy grounds. "Ace of spades. Hold out your hand. What's your name? Sandra. Sandra, spell it. S-A-N-D-R-A. How'd you do that? Sandra, he ace of spades." The great magician Lafitte embodied the spirit of Doc Holliday long before Dennis Quaid or Val Kilmer played the gambler in movies. Now he's taken his show on the road, a very long road, with several old west throwback buddies. They're riding a stagecoach from Springfield, Missouri to the old home of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone Arizona.

Rick Hanby bought the coach six years ago. "A stage Coach has always been the symbol of the west to me. When you see a stage coach it just stirs something in you." The stagecoach was built in the 1850's and until recently belonged to Branson's Silver Dollar City. In fact, Hanby remembers siting on this very coach when he was a kid. He says he sees kids today react the way he did then. "A deer in the headlight. Just imagine a deer in the headlight. Their eyes get big and they just look at that in awe. And I remember the feeling. "For many making the long journey across the old Butterfield Overland Stage Route, it's about fulfilling childhood dreams. Like Brakeman Peter Kline who remembers when he first fell in love with the old west. "I was eight years old, back east. I grew up in Delaware. I left home at eighteen and never returned."

The crew spends about six hours a day on the road and normally travels about thirty miles before calling it a night. The rest of their day is spent greeting curious locals and spinning tales of the frontier. "Who's the best story-teller on the crew? You're talking to him. It depends on what kind of story...I'm still waking up." The crew isn't exactly roughing it like the old pioneers did. They've brought along a large trailer with sleeping quarters. And I'm pretty sure Wyatt Earp didn't have a gas grill. "They were tough, because it was tough. This, it's not that tough. I think we're just softer than they used to be probably. "Don't let him fool you, before they reach Arizona, the crew will hit plenty of weather, raging rivers and jagged mountains. But you can't help but feel they wouldn't have it any other way.

Stops on the trip in Oklahoma include Woolaroc, southwest of Bartlesville, Hominy and Jennings, and Guthrie.