Southwestern Historical Quarterly
First Mail West: Stagecoach Lines on the Santa Fe Trail. By Morris
F. Taylor. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971.
Pp. 253. Notes, bibliography, index. $10o.oo.)
Between 1850 and 188o a significant mail route was developed
along the Santa Fe Trail, bridging the Mississippi Valley and the
desert lands of the great Southwest. The details regarding the evolu-
tion of this communications and transportation system are revealed
in this interesting and well-documented book by Morris Taylor. For
those seeking local detail Taylor presents a trip-by-trip account of
departures along the mail route. He also introduces his reader to
the capitalists, the drivers, the way-station operators, and the others
who built the various companies that ran coaches and wagons across
the "Great American Desert."
The author does a fine job of describing the policy of the federal
government with its accompanying political implications as well as
the policies of the various states and territories involved in the over-
land route. He gives a good insight into the use of military escorts
and the general impact of the military on mail and transportation
flow. Throughout, of course, runs the story of the Postal Service
and its efforts to solve the problems of mail delivery in the vast
expanse of the Far West.
Several historical by-products emerge from the study's primary
theme. For instance, the author gives an interesting view of advanc-
ing technology and accumulated capital and its great influence on
the growing West. Also, as might be expected in a study of early
western transportation, the Indian problem is important. Whether
in reality or only in the imagination, it frequently played a significant
role in policy making at both the local and the national level.
Thus, this many-faceted book should please a wide audience of
readers interested in western Americana. It has a pleasing style; it
tends to emphasize narrative rather than interpretation; and it
brings in many incidents of local color which add to its flavor.
First Mail West is based upon a variety of sources and reflects
a considerable depth of scholarship. It adds new dimensions and
much more detail to the story of the Santa Fe Trail and to the his-
tory of transportation in the Far West.
PAIGE W. CHRISTIANSEN
New Mexico Tech
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/. Accessed December 8, 2013.