Through the 1840s and 1850s there was a desire for better communication
between the east and west coasts of the US. Though there were several
proposals for railroads connecting the two coasts, a more immediate
realization was an overland mail route across the west.
The Butterfield Stage line began in 1857 when businessman John
Butterfield of New York won a 6-year, $600,000-a-year-contract to
transport mail twice a week between St. Louis, Missouri and San
Francisco in 25 days. This would become the largest land-mail contract
that had ever been awarded in the U.S. and was unheard of in its day.
Butterfield line followed the Rocky Mountains but during the winter
would travels through Texas, New Mexico, Yuma and bypass San Diego. The
undertaking was immense and more than 1 million dollars was invested in
getting the stage line prepared, roads and bridges repair, along with
150 stations being set up. This page is for one of those stations.
There were originally 53 Butterfield stage stations in California. 34
stations were in the First Division (Bay Area to Los Angeles) and
nineteen stations in the Second Division (Los Angeles to Colorado
River). These stations were located from 8 miles (13 km) to 38 miles (61
The route was 2,800
miles which caused many problems including lack of water and conflicts
with Native Americans. The land in which this specific stage stop lays
was once a Native American village so I can only imagine what conflicts
once arose here. Regardless, Butterfield felt strongly about its
motto: “Remember boys, nothing on
God’s earth must stop the United States Mail!”
mail delivery, passengers were also accepted to travel on the journey.
Passage over the entire route cost $200 which included 25 lbs. of
baggage, two blankets and
a canteen. Stages traveled at high speeds, 24 hours a
day. There were no overnight hotel stops, only rushed intervals at
stations where the teams were changed. Waterman L. Ormsby, a reporter
for the New York Herald once said “Had I not just come out over the route, I
would be perfectly willing to go back, but I know what Hell is like.
I’ve just had 24 days of it.”
with the Pony Express began in 1860, with the Pony Express delivering
mail in just 10 days. The company failed to get the U.S. mail contract
though and quickly went into debt. However, the Pony Express
did prove to the postal service the advantages of using a
central route over the longer “oxbow route". Very quickly the
Butterfield Stage Co. began having mounting debts as well, forcing John
Butterfield out of presidency of the company.
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