Old Bridger stagecoach station moves location

Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Photo by Patricia Zachary Grabow
Members of the Bridger Historical Society and volunteers preparing the old stage coach building for removal.

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Photo by Alastair Baker
Patricia Zachary Grabow stands before the Bridger Stage Coach Station. Grabow’s grandfather, Baxter Zachery, met his third wife, Evelyn, when she alighted from the stage coach, and he said “I am going to marry that woman.” Baxter owned the first building in Bridger, a saloon, where Calamity Jane babysat his children from his first marriage and from where he threw Wild Bill Cody out three times.

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Photo by Patricia Zachary Grabow
The Bridger Stage Coach Station at its new home in Jim Bridger Park.

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Courtesy Dana Zier
An ad for the Bridger Stage Coach from the Red Lodge Picket Journal, Aug. 22, 1902.

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Photo courtesy of Patricia Zachary Grabow
Patricia Zachary Grabow's grandparents Baxter and Evelyn Zachery.

Bridger’s Stage Coach Station made a final journey itself last Saturday. Members of the Bridger Historical Society and many volunteers, including high school students, heaved the small building from its foundation at the corner of S. 2nd St and W. Sunnyside Ave., and placed it in the Jim Bridger Park, across the road.

Paul Perry owns the lot and is donating the cabin to the city.   

The old building will be restored to its original look with lodge pine logs to replace the white siding that also hides the original door to the structure. 

History about the coach station is vague although according to Bridger Historical Society President Dana Zier it was built after the land was purchased from the Crow Indians in 1895 and by 1899 a coach station was owned and operated by Charles (Curly) Heatherington and his wife, Grace. 

Heatherington also owned a livery stable, a bar and a house.  

Zier suggests the coach master may have also lived at the station and even later, Calamity Jane roomed there at one point. 

It is believed the stagecoach operated to Red Lodge, Gebo, Fromberg and Joliet. It is known that on occasions Buffalo Bill and Jeremiah Johnson would get off the train at Bridger and climb aboard the stage to get them to Red Lodge and then on to Chance, located straight south on the Wyoming border.

At one time there were 8 stage routes coming out of Bridger; Bridger to Fromberg/Gebo; Bridger to Pryor; Bridger to Red Lodge; Bridger to Chance. 

A Mr. Rife owned and operated a stagecoach venture in East Bridger as well.

According to the Red Lodge Picket from Aug. 22, 1902 the fare from Bridger to Red Lodge one way was $2.50. 

One of the Stage drivers was Jack Hash, who drove a route from Bridger to Basin City, Wyoming, three times a week.  Another was John Henderson Darrow, who was a driver from Dry Creek Bridger area.  He drove a stage to Yellowstone and tended bar at the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge. Please turn to page 9 for more photos.