The Overland Trail Stage Stations

Life at Virginia Dale: 1862

Virginia Dale was a bustling home station in 1862. A number of Overland Stage employees called it "home": hostlers, stable boys, guards, and drivers, in addition to Jack and Virginia Slade. Life at Virginia Dale was definitely less monotonous than at any of swing stations--stages arriving and leaving at all hours, many meals being prepared, fears of Indian raids, fierce snow storms in winter, torrential rain in spring causing washouts on the trail, and always windy!

There was also a lively social life at most of the home stations, and Virginia Dale was no exception. Dances were held, and men and women would come from many miles around, using coach, wagon, or horseback. Music was provided at many of the stations by piano, hauled overland by ox-cart. There's no evidence that Virginia Dale had a piano in the early years, but many of the drivers and stock tenders played the fiddle or guitar, and would have been able to provide a variety of music for dancing--which often lasted all night. The favorite dances were the quadrilles and the Virginia Reel.

Warehouses on the grounds were filled to capacity with supplies of hay, grains, canned and dried fruits, and meats. Virginia Dale had the reputation of being one of the best supplied stations along the Overland Trail. Hay was cut from the lush meadows and bottomlands along the Cache la Poudre River and stored at Virginia Dale as feed for the hundreds of animals passing through. Supply wagons came and went on a regular basis, delivering goods to other stations in the district.

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