Hidden History: Butterfield Overland, Part 2


The Butterfield Overland Mail Company began its inaugural run in Tipton, Missouri on September 16th, 1858.

John Butterfield himself and a reporter from the New York Herald were among those on board the stagecoach. The first driver was John Butterfield, Jr.

They completed the trip to San Francisco in just over 23 days, meeting the goal of 25 days that had been laid out in the federal contract.

But government payment on the contract proved to be spotty, forcing Butterfield to borrow $162,000 from Wells Fargo to keep the company afloat.

It was an enormous sum of money in those days, and when he failed to repay the loan, Wells Fargo took over the company in March of 1860.

A year later, the Civil War was about to break out, and in anticipation of the war, the U.S. government suspended the mail contract.

John Butterfield returned to Utica, where he was eventually elected mayor in 1865.

He died in November 1869, just a few months after railroads linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the first time…a technological development that rendered stagecoach mail delivery obsolete.

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