The Butterfield Overland Mail Company held the US government contract for mail delivery between Saint Louis and San Francisco from 1857 to 1861. Using stagecoaches, celerity wagons, and 139 horse relay stations along the route, the mail could be delivered nearly 3,000 miles in 25 days.
We knew parts of the old trail still existed, so we set out to find it. Lucky for us, the route comes close to our home and there's a map guy in the family.
Sometimes the trail is easy to find - such as when the road is labeled "Butterfield Trail Road." (I bet those stagecoach drivers would have loved a Garmin GPS!)
Other sections of the trail, though, are not so easy to find. But if you persevere, you will see some beautiful Missouri country and come closer to imagining what it might have been like to travel by stage 150 years ago.
New York Herald, was the only through passenger on the first coach to leave Saint Louis. For his first-hand account of the 24-day trip beginning September 26, 1858, be sure to read:
Ormsby, Waterman Lilly, Lyle Henry Wright, and Josephine M. Bynum. 1942. The Butterfield overland mail. San Marino, Calif: The Huntington library.Yours in traveling by pretend-stagecoach through beautiful Missouri,