The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 14
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
locations of a few towns and old forts, the course of the pre-Civil
War Butterfield Overland Mail route can be charted without
great error from Colbert's Ferry on Red River to Horsehead
Crossing on the Pecos. West of Horsehead Crossing land records
are still the major source of information for outlining the route
of this old trail all the way west to the Rio Grande at El Paso.
The first of the Butterfield coaches did not actually cross the
river at Horsehead Crossing but turned upstream on the east
bank fifty-five miles to Emigrant Crossing48 and yet another sixty-
five miles to Pope's Camp. The writer has not checked this
route in land records but the physical path of the river can itself
fairly well outline the course of the road between these points.
The wagon road which the mail coaches followed had been made
by the supply trains of Captain John Pope who had attempted
to produce artesian water near the New Mexico line.49 After
his unsuccessful experiment was finished and abandoned, both
his road and his camp were taken over by the Butterfield inter-
ests. Pope's abandoned camp was on the east side of the Pecos
about four miles south of the New Mexico line. Pope's Crossing
48The search for the location of the Emigrant Crossing Station constitutes a
most interesting problem. Roscoe and Margaret Conkling reported in their book,
The Butterfield Overland Mail, I, 377-378, that the probable location of this stage
stand was somewhere in Section 25 or 26, Block 33, of the Houston and Texas
Central Railway Surveys. The thoroughness of the Conklings' research methods
might cause one to accept their solution to the problem without question. If, how-
ever, one studies carefully the notes left by Randolph B. Marcy (Senate Executive
Documents, 31st Cong., Ist Sess. [Serial No. 562], Document No. 64), he is led to
a different conclusion. Marcy's notes are not at all consistent with the physical
facts of the river and the topography at Section 25. The Pecos turns sharply to
the southeast at Section 25. Marcy traveled 8 north of east from his river cross-
ing and said that he traveled down near the river in so doing. Plainly his crossing
could not have been southeast from that point instead of 8 north of east as he
On the other hand, Section 16, which is five miles downstream from Section 25,
is a point at which Marcy's notes are thoroughly consistent with the bends of the
river. Moreover, this point in Section 16 is well-known locally as Emigrant Cross-
ing. The writer has worked somewhat laboriously studying the bends of the river
on the ground and from maps. He has found no other place that is consistent with
all of Marcy's notes except the crossing in Section 16 which is locally known as
Emigrant Crossing. Apparently the Emigrant Crossing Station was five miles up
stream from Emigrant Crossing itself. There may be, however, some other solution
to the problem.
49"Conclusion of the Official Review of the Reports upon the Explorations and
Surveys for Railroad Routes from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean,"
House Executive Documents, 33rd Cong., 2nd Sess. (Serial No. 797), Document
No. 91, pp. 16-18.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/34/?q=northwest%20of%20san%20antonio: accessed December 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.