First Overland Mail

First Overland Mail

Landmark #40
by Robert E. Pinkerton
Publisher: Random House
©1953, Item: 31777
Hardcover, 185 pages
Not in stock

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Nothing must stop the United States mail!

With that ringing cry, John Butterfield and his men pushed through the first overland delivery of mail from Missouri to California. That first trip in the fall of 1858 was a hair-raising relay race by stagecoach over miserable roads and newly-blazed trails.

When that first stagecoach reached San Francisco, the town turned out to celebrate. Old John Butterfield had accomplished the impossible! His Overland Mail Company had brought letters and newspapers 2,800 miles from the East in 23 days and 23.5 hours—faster than the best steamships and weeks ahead of the intermittent service through Salt Lake City. To those men and women in California, mail and news from the East were the most wonderful things in the world! Now they really felt they were in the United States!

To deliver this precious mail, John Butterfield had worked like a demon and had invested a fortune. His contract with the United States Government gave him just a year to set up the overland mail service. Doggedly he dug into the job, hiring engineers to chart the course and drivers who could handle horses through rough country, building way-stations, setting up blacksmith shops, buying the best horses and getting veterinarians to care for them. Two thousand men were on the payroll of the Overland Mail by the time the first delivery arrived in California.

The story of the First Overland Mail moves at a breathless pace with all the drama and excitement of the early West.

From the dust jacket


A eulogistic and well padded narrative history of John Butterfield's line of stagecoaches that took passengers and mail across our continent ""on the swiftest journey horses have ever provided"". Little remembered today, Butterfield's Overland Mail turned many a track over the territory between St. Louis and California in the 1850's. Here are the men—Butterfield, his son and their helpers— and their problems—from Apaches to station building and relay timing—in an exciting segment of our history that had its share of blood and thunder and the shaping of American ideals.
—Kirkus Review

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