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There is certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place… Washington Irving

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Sharps rifles and Spanish mules : the San Antonio – El Paso mail, 1851-1881  Wayne R. Austerman  College Station : Texas A&M University Press, c 1985  Hardcover. 1st ed. x, 367 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 24 cm.  Bibliography: p. [325]-355.      Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Aue Stagecoach Inn & Complex, 1878 House, Boerne Stage Road, Leon Springs, Bexar County, TX

Aue Stagecoach Inn & Complex, 1878 House, Boerne Stage Road, Leon Springs, Bexar County, TX

Austerman’s fact-packed story relates the excitement and the danger that mail carriers experienced while passing through this inhospitable land. Included are historical photographs and lively depictions of the owners of the stage line, influential Texans and the courageous, sharp-shooting drivers who delivered the mail.

Old ranch house of "Walking X" Ranch near Marfa, Texas. This house was built about 1870 and was a stagecoach stop

Old ranch house of “Walking X” Ranch near Marfa, Texas. This house was built about 1870 and was a stagecoach stop

An account on the development of this route from its initial conception in 1848 to its actual initiation in 1851 to its demise by the arrival of the railroad in 1881. Technically, this book could be considered business history. However, the story is so interesting and exciting that there is virtually no comparison with soporific studies of the coups of urban companies and corporations.

Tarde Hotel, Florella & Madrid Streets, Castroville, Medina County, TX

Tarde Hotel, Florella & Madrid Streets, Castroville, Medina County, TX

Sharps Rifles and Spanish Mules is a tribute to the courage of the mail contractors and their employees who braved weather, isolation, Indians, bandits, and competitors to provide this vital service. Austerman is especially effective in stressing the importance of the stagelines as harbingers of civilization on the frontier and is the most comprehensive account of West Texas stagecoaching.

Sheriff on horseback looking at stage coach robber hanging by neck from tree.

Sheriff on horseback looking at stage coach robber hanging by neck from tree.

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