History Butterfield Overland Company

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company had the government mail contract from September 15, 1857. Originally all of the Overland Stage owners had submitted routes with relay stations and frontier forts that were north of Albuquerque, New Mexico territory; they had no knowledge of what was called the ox bow route.

John Warren Butterfield (who was in a partnership with the principals of Wells Fargo for the American Express company) was paid $600,000 (USD) to get the mail between St. Louis and San Francisco in 25 days.[ At that time it was the largest land-mail contract ever awarded in the US.[] It was required by contract to go through El Paso, Texas and through Fort Yuma near present day Yuma, Arizona—the so-called "Oxbow Route". The western fare one way was $200 with most stages arriving 22 days later at its final destination.

This route was an extra 600 miles further than the central and northern routes through Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. However the southern route was free of snow.

With the American Civil War looming the competing Pony Express was formed in 1860 to deliver mail faster and on a central/northern route away from the volatile southern route. The Pony Express was to succeed in delivering the mail in 10 days. But the Pony Express failed to get the mail contract.

Butterfield's assets as well as those of the Pony Express were to wind up with the Wells Fargo partners.

A correspondent for the New York Herald, Waterman Ormsby, remarked after his 2,812 mile trek through the western US to San Francisco on a Butterfield Stagecoach thus: "Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like. I've just had 24 days of it."

Employing over 800 at its peak, it used 250 Concord Stagecoaches and 1800 head of stock, horses and mules and 139 relay stations or frontier forts in its heyday. The last Oxbow Route run was made March 21, 1861 at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War.

     Today if you will make the effort you see and take a picture of a stone monument placed on the trail of the Butterfield Overland Express.The location is on highway 65 at the stopsign for Lindsey. At this stopsign,turn west and go around the gas station now going south for about a 100 hundred yards. You will now see two stone monuments, One is for the Butterfield Overland Express. The other monument is for the Fremont Trail.

Sonny Rouch

 
 
Copyright © 2006-17 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.