Rodney P West

The "Bishop"--He Preached a Pretty Fair Sermon

RODNEY P. WEST, who always went by the title of "Bishop West," was one of the best known of all the boys on the Overland Stage Line. "Bishop" had driven stage in the East, and he had also driven in Iowa and Missouri. He held the lines in several places on the Overland between the Missouri River and Salt Lake, ran for some time as messenger from Atchison to Denver, and later was promoted to a division agency between Julesburg and Fort Kearney. During his staging career he had gone through many hardships, having lost his toes by freezing and suffered in many other ways. The "Bishop" was in every sense a moral, conscientious, upright young man, a pleasing conversationalist, quite a good singer, and it was, often told of him that he could go into the pulpit and preach a pretty fair sermon. It was only when he was greatly exasperated that he sometimes indulged in anything bordering on profanity. He was a kind-hearted fellow, extremely generous, and universally liked by all who knew him. He died in Montana in the early '90's.

Hon. W. N. Byers, the Denver pioneer and noted journalist, said in an interview: "I remember 'Bishop' West, a noted driver on the Idaho Springs, Georgetown and Central road. They used to call him deacon, though how he got the nickname I am sure I can't tell. He was a small man, and crippled. The front part of his feet had been frozen off. But he was as brave as they make them; calm, cool, and a splendid driver. One day he had a party of Eastern men in on the road to Idaho Springs. One insisted on sitting with the driver, and made himself offensive to 'Bishop' all the way up to the top of the mountain. He assumed to know all about staging, from his experiences in New England, and talked a good deal about the magnificent specimens of manhood which were employed as drivers in that part of the country. 'Bishop' looked at his leaders and said nothing. Finally they got to Virginia caņon, at the top of the ascent. 'Bishop' got out and put in the brake blocks. This amused the Eastern man very much, and he made various funny remarks about it. 'Bishop' said nothing, and they started down the steep descent. They flew along, a steep precipice on one side, and a high bank on the other. Then. it would change and be vice versa. The tenderfoot grew more and more paralyzed. His extensive experience had not accustomed him to just that kind of a road. Finally, as the bank came around to his side of the stage again, he made one frantic leap and landed on the hillside. 'Bishop' never checked his horses. He drove into Idaho Springs and then drove on. Some hours later Mr. Tenderfoot followed on foot and had the pleasure of waiting for the next stage."

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