Stagecoaches, U.S. Mail and the Railroad

In 1860 the famous western company, Russell, Majors and Waddell, became the Overland Stage Company. They had recently obtained the contracts to carry all of the mail from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast. To supplement their income they also carried passengers. (Mark Twain gives a great account of travel by the overland stage in his book, Roughing It, 1872, didn’t sound like much fun to me) Stage stations were stretched across Wyoming and the west. A need for more speed brought in the Pony Express with stations 15 mile apart and young riders making wild dashes across the country.

By 1862 the overland stage line was changed to a southern route (the old Cherokee Trail) to help alleviate the Indian problems on the more northern route. The entire history of the Overland Stage lasted only six years; by then the Railroad was the means of moving both mail and people.
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