OREGON COUNTY -- Students at Koshkonong were in for a treat when Rick Hamby, his stagecoach, and his program, The Journey, came to their school last week.
Hamby, a native of Howell County, travels the country with his stagecoach educating children and adults about the true Old West.
He has written several children's books, including The Journey Campfire Stories for Kids, and currently has a radio show, Just for Kids Radio Roundup, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. on KKDY, 102.5 in West Plains.
Hamby was born and raised in West Plains. As a child he developed a passion for the Old West, and the stagecoach became the symbol of the Old West that he most identified with. It became his dream to one day own a stagecoach.
In September 1999 Hamby visited the Wallace Stone's Old Blacksmith Shop in Clarkridge, Ark., to purchase some old wagon wheels. "While I was there I noticed a very long wagon tongue behind the shed. I walked over to take a closer look and discovered my dream, poised, as though waiting to once again spring to life as in days of old, horses hitched, driver holding the reins and passengers in place," Hamby said.
The coach, originally built in the 1800s, was retired after the Civil War and was purchased by Silver Dollar City in Branson. It was restored and operated as part of the Silver Dollar Line until the 1980s when it was retired again.
After talking with Stone about the history, condition and price of the coach, Hamby struck a deal with the owner and his dream was one step closer to becoming a reality.
Hamby said it was as though history had saved the Concord Stagecoach for him and he said he knew that it deserved to live on into its third century and make one last run, so he immediately set out to authentically restore it to its former glory. After 11 month and many restoration experts, the renovation was complete in August 2000.
The journey begins...
In the spring of 2001, the stagecoach left Springfield with Hamby and his crew headed to Tombstone, Ariz. Sixty-three days and 1,500 miles later, this stagecoach became the first to deliver a load of personal mail in 140 years.
The stage coach made its second journey in the fall of 2001 with Hamby again aboard. This journey was from Tombstone to Las Vegas. Since that time, Hamby has made special appearances and given slide presentations about his journeys to take people back to the Old West. Hamby plans a third trip in the near future.
"The Journey remains committed to a goal of preserving memories of the American West while enhancing the lives of people of all ages," Hamby said.
Hamby will be appearing at the Oregon County Country Music Theater in Thayer Feb. 9. The theater is located at Fifth and Walnut streets in Thayer. The community is invited to come and share a special portion of American history and adventure when Hamby brings the Journey to Thayer.