The Coburn Mystery: Chapter 52

Chapter 52

The rift between businessman Joe Levy and landowner Loren Coburn grew as wide as the Pacific Ocean to the west of the quaint village of Pescadero.

They went from building and tearing down the fence that kept people out of Pebble Beach to directly competing for passengers in the transportation business. Mr. Levy was already running stages from San Mateo to Half Moon Bay to Pescadero. In March 1892, Mr. Coburn leaped into the stage business, too. He purchased two big Mt. Hamilton coaches, with a ten-twelve passenger capacity. Three daily stages: Mon. Wed. Fri. He announced that his fares would be low, lower than that of Mr. Levy.  He called his company the “People’s Stage Line.”

Right away there were problems for Coburn’s new stage line. Why didn’t Loren expect a glitch at Half Moon Bay? That’s where the Levy Brothers had their flagship general store. What happened is that the People’s Stage Line couldn’t get out of town as fast as Joe Levy’s stagecoaches. Something about no one to water and feed the exhausted horses.

Then came the price war. In May 1892 Coburn charged $1.10 for the trip over the hill. In response, Levy dropped his prices. Feeling optimistic, Loren Coburn bought more coaches and extended the itinerary to include San Francisco, 95 cents, one way. After both sides dropped prices, they raised them again during the summer—but Loren never could overcome the delay at Half Moon Bay and eventually quit the stagecoach business.


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