Powell students build stagecoach from scratch

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POWELL, Wyo. (AP) - Mark Twain once called the Concord Coach “an imposing cradle on wheels.”

At Powell High School, you can call it a work of art.

For months, students have worked during art classes, after school and in early mornings to create a realistic Concord Coach replica inspired by the John Wayne 1939 film “Stagecoach.”

At the high school, the stagecoach sat surrounded by students’ lockers. The curved coach looks like it would be more at home on a dusty road in the Old West, drawn by horses and carrying folks across the open plains.

To make it look as realistic and historically accurate as possible, students paid close attention to small details, meticulously working on each feature.

“A lot of it came as we went along. We realized more things that made it realistic,” said Austin Ouellette, a senior art student who helped lead the project.

Students built the stagecoach entirely from scratch, using some diagrams and scaling them down to 80 percent, said Jim Gilman, who teaches art at Powell High School.

Without blueprints or a how-to guide available, students researched stagecoaches, drew stencils for the various pieces and used their creativity.

“They had to figure out, ‘How are we going to make it?’” Gilman said.

One of the most difficult parts was bending the wood to create the stagecoach’s curved shape, said PHS senior Alvaro Acevedo, who also helped lead the project. Woodworkers often use steam to bend wood, but that wasn’t an option with the resources students had available. Instead, they learned how to bend wood with water.

“The most impressive thing is that they got the curve right,” Gilman said.

Figuring out how to bend the wood to an exact angle so the curved coach’s door would open and close presented another obstacle, Acevedo said.

Alvaro spent a lot of time on that door,” Gilman said.

Windows also were a challenge.

“There was a lot of problem-solving,” Gilman said.

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