May 29, 1903
Merced County Sun

Something About the Comforts and Cost of the Trip From this City.
       The articles that have appeared in this paper recently about Yosemite Valley were the result of a three days' visit to that wonderful place. There are many attractions in the valley, many points of interest to be seen, that we have not mentioned at all.
       However, it is fitting now that we should say something about how to get into the valley and out of it, for that is a subject in which all prospective visitors are vitally interested.
       The quickest and cheapest way into the valley is via the Yosemite Transportation Company's route, from Merced. This company has grown into one of large proportions during the past two seasons. Originally it was the Stoddard stage line, running between Merced and Coulterville. Mr. D. K. Stoddard conceived the idea of establishing a stage line between Merced and Yosemite Valley, so he incorporated the company, got considerable capital into it, purchased a number of new stages and a large number of additional horses, and began the operation of a carrying business on a very large scale. Then he interested the officials of the Santa Fe railroad company in the project to such an extent that now the stage line is advertised far and wide throughout the United States and tickets may be purchased in and out of Yosemite from any Santa Fe office in the country.
       The stage leaves Merced every day a little before two o'clock, upon arrival of the Santa Fe limited. The drive to Snelling is made in two hours, where a change of horse is made. Another hour takes passengers to Merced Falls, where horses are changed again. Then the route leads up the foothills, reaching Webb Station about 6:30, where a good dinner awaits the traveler. Continuing the journey another hour brings you to Baxter, where four fresh horses are in waiting. From there on to Coulterville you enjoy a twilight or a moonlight ride that is delightful. The night is spent in a comfortable hotel in Coulterville, and early the next morning the refreshed traveler begins the second day's ride through the upper hills and higher mountains of the Sierras. Fresh horse await the arrival of the stage at Bower
Cave, Hazel Green and big Meadows. This ride is through a beautiful mountain country, where there is something to rest and please the eye at every turn of the road. Bower Cave is an interesting sight. Hazel Green is also attractive and is the dinner station. About four o'clock in the afternoon the stage road winds down a mountain side into the Merced river canyon, which is followed through the entrance to Yosemite Valley and along the floor of the valley to the hotel and camps. Near the hotel is the stage company's office with a genial young man in charge who takes great pleasure in giving the passengers all necessary information and directions. Excuse my negligence in not introducing him before - Mr. Orville Seely, formerly of Merced.
       Each stage requires a team of four horses. Starting from Merced with four horses and changing at Snelling, Merced Falls, Baxter, Coulterville, Bower Cave, Hazel Green, and Big Meadows, require thirty-two horses for the single trip into the valley, with one stage. Frequently two stages are run, and sometimes three or more. This makes necessary the maintenance of eight stable stations en route, and with a man in charge of each, and with each stable accommodating from four to sixteen horses. The number of drivers employed varies of course with the number of stages in use.
       The stages are all large, heavy, and comfortable, and the drivers are the most sociable and agreeable liars you will find anywhere. It is a pleasure to know them, and a genuine treat to hear them talk about the tamale orchards and other points of interest along the way. Mark Twain once said that "it is better not to know so much, than to know so darned much ain't so." But evidently Mark Twain never had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Ben Cook, or any of the other drivers for the Yosemite Transportation Company.
       All this costs a heap of money, and one would naturally suppose the stage fare would be high. On the contrary, the fare from Merced to Yosemite Valley and return is only $20, and the hotel bills enroute are only $2 each way. The trip provides the cheapest summer outing you can take, and the best.