Monday, December 20, 2010

Butterfield Stage

June 22, 1993 San Diego County CA
Third landmark of nine in the series of June 22
Spirits remain high, the day is still young and other than a growing need for some pie in Julian, things are rolling along this route loosely referred to as the Southern Emigrant Trail, and traveled by foot, mule, horse, jackass, wagon, car, and truck since the Spanish began following Native American trails.

This landmark has been visited twice, the reason being that there are two plaques; one on highway saying with a pointing arrow: “That-a-way”. And the second landmark plaque at the actual site, which in this case is down a dirt road and atop a hill overlooking the pass. The first time by these parts, credit was taken by just seeing the first plaque on the highway, but mounting guilt forced a return to the scene, to circle aimlessly through the dirt in four wheel drive, ruining the fragile ecosystem till the better half and daughter spotted the damn thing way up on the hillside. Ironically, this plaque location and attempt at humor from 1958 was performed by the Sierra Club. Another thing the Sierra Club did in their rush to celebrate the Butterfield Stage centennial with a landmark was to not name the pass, so though the name probably lies on a USGS map somewhere, it will now be named for my first pet, Dumbo.   

In 1858 John Butterfield won a government contract of $600,000 a year for six years to carry mail from Tipton Missouri to San Francisco twice a week. Spending more than a million dollars getting the company started, he and his 800 employees ran between 100 and 250 coaches, 1000 horses, and 500 mules. The 'Concord' coaches they used weighed about 2,500 pounds and cost $1,300.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company initially followed a southern route between St. Louis and San Francisco that avoided the snow of the Rocky Mountains by traveling through Texas, the New Mexico Territory and Southern California. The trip of 2,900 miles was always made in twenty-four days or less.

Though the coaches had the mail as their first priority, they also accepted as passengers any hardy souls who were game for the adventure. Passage for the whole route cost $200, and a passenger was allowed twenty-five pounds of baggage. The coaches traveled twenty-four hours a day; there were no sleepover stops, only the hurried intervals at the station houses when they changed horses. Travelers were then offered meals of bread, coffee, cured meat and, on occasion, beans.
The song, ‘Butterfield Stage’ came out of this landmark and others in Riverside, Los Angeles, Kern, and Tulare counties and lyrics will follow in a blog soon to follow. In research a light-hearted list from the stage company posted in Tipton, Missouri told of what bring for the 24 day journey of a lifetime, and with some healthy exaggeration, a song took shape. Turns out this is a great way for kids to learn the names and terminology of clothing and artifacts in those days immediately preceding the civil war.
Here's a link to a video sample:

Plaque inscription: NO.
- This pass, Puerta, between the desert and the cooler valleys to the north, was used by the Mormon Battalion, Kearny's Army of the West, the Butterfield Overland Mail stages, and emigrants who eventually settled the West. The eroded scar on the left was the route of the Butterfield stages, 1858-1861. The road on the right served as a county road until recent years.
Location: Blair Valley, 0.5 mi E of
County Rd
S2 (P.M. 23.0), 5.8 mi S of
State Hwy
78, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Marker has been moved to hillside of East fork road off highway S2  .6 mi. 33'02'187N - 116'24'186W

1 comment:

  1. I was very glad to find your site with the Butterfield Overland Mail Route marker. I wanted to properly identify the location for a photo I took in 1998. Thanks.