The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 11
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Some Details of the Southern Overland Mail
carrying agency and the service and satisfaction it brought to
the people of the nation in this respect represented its greatest
value. "Overland Mail News" was featured by many of the great
papers on both sides of the Rocky Mountains. However, New
Orleans papers received at San Francisco via the Tehuantepec
route, would sometimes, although not generally, be of later date
than the Saint Louis papers sent overland. Ordinarily the dif-
ference was about four days in favor of the overland route."7 Mail
or passengers from New York could generally reach San Francisco
about six days sooner by the overland than by the Isthmus of Te-
huantepec route. Thomas James, of the Wells-Fargo Company,
was reported to have bet Cornelius Vanderbilt $5000 against Van-
derbilt's fine team of horses that the overland mail leaving Saint
Louis April 14, 1859, would arrive at San Francisco before the
passengers of the Northern Light, which left New York harbor
April 6.28 How this interesting wager ever came out we cannot
say, but the eight days start which the steamer passengers had
was just about sufficient to make both of these gentlemen uncom-
fortable until the report of the outcome was received. Of course,
between California and all points in the upper Mississippi valley,
the overland service offered still greater advantages in the way
The original outlay of the Butterfield company must have ap-
proximated a million dollars. The surveying of the line, the pur-
chase of about a hundred of the best Concord stage coaches, buying
hundreds of horses and mules, the construction, purchasing or
leasing of over a hundred stations with appurtenant barns, stables
and corrals, the laying in and transporting of supplies for men
and animals, and the equipping of employees and stations with
firearms, all required an enormous outlay. Besides this, it was
necessary to do an immense amount of work on the trail in places
to make passage of vehicles at all possible.20
The station buildings, barns and corrals were of various types
and were built of many different materials. Logs were used where
"7Comments and news items in the Missogurji r republican, November 4,
1858, and the San Francisco Herald, January 17, 1859.
"The San Francisco Herald, April 7, 1859.
"gThe account of W. W. Whitten, one of the first passengers, gives some-
thing of the nature of this road construction. Saint Louis Democrat, Oc-
tober 25, 1858.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/19/: accessed December 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.