THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LXI JULY, 1957 No. 1
the 1hutter/idd Overland )14ail
Road across ercas
J. W. WILLIAMS
AN anything new be said about the old Butterfield Over-
land Mail Route that is just approaching its one hun-
dredth anniversary? This famous route that crossed Texas
just before the Civil War has been the subject of many hundreds
of pages of published material. Are all the facts already in print?
Anyone who wishes may, without extended effort, look up such
facts as these:
i. The old dirt road over which the United States government
established this first large scale transcontinental mail service was 2,795
2. The road began at Tipton, Missouri, a railhead 16o miles west
of St. Louis.
3. It extended across the present states of Missouri, Arkansas,
Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California and termi-
nated at San Francisco.
4. It passed through the towns or cities of Springfield, Missouri;
Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas; Sherman, Gainesville, Jacks-
boro, and present-day El Paso, Texas; Tucson and Yuma, Arizona;
and Los Angeles, California.
5. Another branch of this mail road extended from Memphis,
Tennessee, westward and joined the principal road at Fort Smith,
6. The postal authorities at Washington agreed to pay the mail
contractors, John Butterfield and associates, $6oo,ooo per year for
7. These contractors were to furnish semi-weekly mail service,
and their mail coaches actually made the 2,795-mile journey in ap-
proximately twenty-five days.
8. A total outlay that approaches $i,ooo,ooo was spent by the
contractors in preparing to carry out their contract.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed April 25, 2015.