The Kennebec Historical Society’s April public presentation “Stagecoaches on the Kennebec” will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at Hope Baptist Church, 726 Western Ave. in Manchester.

Western history author, entrepreneur and inventor Leland J. Hanchet, Jr. will be the presenter.

Leland J. Hanchett Jr. Photo courtesy of the Kennebec Historical Society

According to a release from the historical society, travel from Portland to the Kennebec Valley by stagecoach had begun long before Augusta had been selected for the Capitol site. As early as 1792, Caleb Graffam rode the post and conveyed newspapers from Portland to Hallowell.

By December 1793, he carried passengers from Portland to Hallowell in a sleigh. This was just once every two weeks, but it made a good start. Up until the advent of the railroads in Maine, stagecoaches carried visitors, politicians and business men between Portland, Maine’s interim capital, and Augusta.

Stage owners were frequently tavern owners as well. What better business model than being able to physically carry your customers to your tavern’s front door.

The presentation will cover the roads, stage lines, and taverns used to convey and accommodate travelers from Portland to Augusta and include stories of actual travelers who braved the winter snows, summer storms and some reckless stage drivers.

Hanchett has published his first book on Maine’s history and his ninth book overall. After 16 years in computer design and manufacturing, he started his own manufacturing company, founding Hanchett Entry Systems Inc. A Swedish company bought him out in 1998.

Hanchett then wrote six books about Arizona followed by one on Montana. During his engineering career, he patented 30 electronic, optical and mechanical devices.

The presentation is free to the public; donations will be accepted.

For more information, call the society at 622-7718.


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