Butterfield Overland Mail

Butterfield Overland Mail (HM15SE)

Location: Ravenna, TX 79847 Culberson County
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Country: United States of America
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N 31° 53.64', W 104° 49.036'

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The Pinery Station

Butterfield Overland Mail
First Overland Mail Route from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California.


As a forerunner of the Pony Express and Transcontinental Railroad, the Butterfield Overland Mail was the first successful attempt to link East and West with a reliable transportation and communication system. Much of the route in this part of the county followed the well-defined path of thousands of emigrants and gold-seekers traveling westward during the previous decade. The arduous 2,700-mile wilderness journey between St. Louis and San Francisco was always completed within 25 days as stipulated in John Butterfield's federal mail contract.

The six-year federal mail contract awarded to John Butterfield, a wealthy and popular businessman, was cut short by the onset of the Civil War in 1861, yet the Butterfield Overland Mail was heralded by some as one of the "greatest events of the age."

"Remember boys, nothing on God's earth must stop the United States mail!"
-John Butterfield's instructions to his drivers

The Pinery Station

Pinery Station, named for the surrounding stands of pine, has the distinction of being the only ruin of an original company-built, Butterfield station standing in close proximity to a national highway. At 5,700 feet in elevation, it was also the highest, and was especially attractive because of its excellent grazing land and dependable water sources.

Butterfield stations were located an average of 20 miles apart. For eleven months from September 1858 to august 1859, coaches regularly stopped here for water, food, rest, fresh mule teams, and protection. Drivers and passengers kept company with the station keeper, cooks, blacksmith, freighters, gold seekers, adventurers, and settlers. Long after the station was abandoned for a more adequately protected route designed to better serve a chain of forts further south, the limestone walls continued to provide refuge for freighters, soldiers, drovers, outlaws, and emigrants.

The Celerity Coach

Speed was imperative; a Celerity coach traveled day and night averaging 120 miles a day carrying up to nine passengers, essential baggage, and 12,000 letters. Six horses or mules pulled each coach. These coaches, similar to what were later known as mud-wagons due to their low center of gravity, were well adapted to the rough mountains and desert country. They were either painted or varnished red or a dark bottle green. Wire pattern candle lamps provided light inside the leather-lined coaches. One hundred of these wagons were built in 1857 at a cost of $1,500 each and placed in the Butterfield Overland Mail service in 1858.
Details
HM NumberHM15SE
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Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 4th, 2014 at 9:05pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13R E 517279 N 3528701
Decimal Degrees31.89400000, -104.81726667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 31° 53.64', W 104° 49.036'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds31° 53' 38.40" N, 104° 49' 2.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)915
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 417 The Pinery Trail, Ravenna TX 79847, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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