Sunday, December 21, 2014

A 'visit to Deadwood' is definitely on his bucket list!

by Larry Miller

One of the most beautiful roadways in the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway, cuts across western North Caroline.  It offers locals and tourists alike some delightful automobile excursions.

But for Earl Daniels, who lives in nearby Lenoir, North Carolina, there might be a way to improve upon that experience:  enjoy it from a horse-drawn coach!

Earl Daniels owns reproduction #17 of a stage coach built by North Carolinian Tom Winkler.  Daniels, who has his own museum, also has an 1890 vintage Doctor's Buggy and an
Overseer Buggy from about 1850.
A few weeks ago, Daniels contacted our Lawrence County Historical Society in an effort to track down a route map for the historic Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Line.  He's still working to lay his hands on one.  After all, it would be a perfect complement to the Conover Coach reproduction he owns (No. 17) that was built by his neighbor down the road a ways, Tom Winkler.

"I estimate he is about 85 years old, and he has two full-time helpers and one part-timer who does the interior work.  All are in their late 70's or 80's.   The coach is totally handcrafted" notes Daniels, who observed that Winkler does all the metal work himself.

"It takes about six months for him to build one, and he does all the metal work himself.  He works from blue prints of the Abbot-Downng Concord Coach, which he obtained from the Smithsonian."
Daniels says the original coaches were built between 1826 and 1899.  There are approximately 157 original coaches remaining.

Winkler has also reportedly done reproductions of fully operational chuck wagons.

"He is an interesting man to talk to, and he truly loves his work," Daniels says of Winkler. "He is practicing what I believe to be a dying art."

Daniels has his own museum, which includes a vintage 1890 doctor's buggy and one of only 46 overseer buggies that date back to about 1850.  He says his interest is "simply the love for the mode of horse-drawn travel during the 1800s."

And with that in mind, Daniels says a visit to Deadwood is definitely on his "bucket list."