Pelan-Roseau Stage Coach Line Part 2
Last week we began the article, “The Pelan-Roseau Stage Coach Line”, written by Milt Sather for the Roseau County Centennial Book. The stagecoach was the main mode of transportation during the early years of Roseau County. Running at first from Hallock to Jadis (Roseau), travelers would go in stages from Hallock to Pelan where they would stay the night at the Halfway House. The next day the stagecoach traveled from Pelan to Roseau, stopping in Greenbush and Badger. Later the stage made the run from Stephen to Roseau. The cost of this trip, including the stay at the hotel and meals, was five dollars. This week we continue examining this history.
“Early in 1903, Andrew Olson sold his interest in the stage line and the Halfway House to George Roberts of Stephen. A year later, Roberts had – according to the Pelan Advocate, ‘A line of three handsome canvas coaches, warm as a parlor and sufficiently light as not to retard the speed of his teams, which move over the road at the rate of eight miles per hour, including stops.’
“In September of 1903, Nils Njus, a young Lutheran minister, who had recently moved into the area, rented a buggy and team and drove to Stephen to meet his parents who arrived on the train. As they neared Pelan on their way to the pastor’s home the sun was beginning to set, the air had a chill to it, the pastor decided to spend the night at the Halfway House. As they arrived in Pelan, according to Pastor Njus, ‘the stagecoach with a lot of traveling men on it pulled in. The passengers immediately went into the saloons and I knew that there would be a rough time in Pelan that night.’ Rather than spend the night in a hotel with drunks, the pastor and his passengers left Pelan and arrived at his home four hours later.
“Through the years, the Pelan Stage Line had many colorful and experienced drivers. Jim Riley of Badger, drove the Roseau stage for four consecutive years, winter and summer, without missing a day. The Pelan Advocate of July 29, 1903 had the following local news: ‘The passenger train on the St. Vincent line was about five hours late one day last week owing to an accident near Euclid. This made a big dose of mail for the stage the next day and Riley swore.’
“Another driver who put a lot of miles on the old Concord coaches was Billy Peterson of Pelan. An interesting item in the Pelan Post of April 16, 1903 states, ‘Wm. Peterson, while attempting to a ride raw bronco in the presence of a large crowd last Sunday was thrown from his mount with horse at its highest speed, and falling under its heels was severely bruised about the face, losing six teeth in the mishap. The cause of the mishap was the loosened girt which let the saddle slip down under the horse. This is the only way ‘Billy’ cannot ride, bottom side up.’ The following week the Pelan Post reported, ‘Wm. Peterson is once more able to send the horses over the road to Stephen after his recent misunderstanding with a bronco.’
“Eight miles an hour, the top speed of Robert’s bronc drawn coaches, was apparently too slow for Mr. Roberts as the Pelan Advocate of August 31, 1904, announces the coming of Roberts Horseless Stage. To speed things up he installed a steam turbine in the Kittie. With smoke stack protruding through the roof and towing the Medora with a load of passengers the ‘train on the plains’ on a trip from Stephen to Roseau attained the unheard of speed of ten miles an hours. By October of 1904 Roberts was using the steam engine of his horseless stage to propel his sawing machine and is now sawing wood for the people of the town.” To be continued next week