The Butterfield Family
The Pinery or Pine Spring Stage Stand
Contributed by: Lisa Leiding LLEIDING@aol.com
On a sign near the ruins:
The Pinery Trail
Welcome to the Pinery Trail! As you travel this short 1/3 mile path to the remains of the Old Pinery Station, pause to remember its place in our history. For eleven months, from September 1858 to August 1859, red and green Celerity stagecoaches particularly stopped here for water, food, rest, fresh mule teams and protection. Each coach traveled day and night, averaging 120 miles a day and carrying up to 9 passengers, essential baggage and 12,000 letters. Drivers and passengers kept company here with the station-keeper, cooks, soldiers, blacksmith, road crews, express riders, freighters, packers, traders, gold-seekers, adventurers, and settlers. Speed was imperative; the grueling 2,700 mile wilderness journey between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California was completed within 25 days as promised.
Today, little is left of the once fort-like building. It is a quiet, fragile reminder of the nation’s first successful attempt (September 28, 1858) to link East and West with a reliable transportation and communication system. Prior to this, letters moved east to west by steamship sailing around South America.
Pinery Station, the highest of the many located an average 20-miles apart, was especially attractive because of its excellent grazing lands and dependable water sources. Long after the station was abandoned for a more adequately protected route designed to better serve a chain of forts along the southern military road to El Paso, the high limestone walls, continued to provide refuge for freighters, soldiers, drovers, outlaws and emigrants.
With the onset of the Civil War in 1861, John Butterfield’s six-year mail contract was canceled after two years, five months and seventeen days. In its time, however, the popular and wealthy businessman’s Butterfield Overland Mail Route was heralded by some as one of the “greatest events of the age,” and as forerunner of the Pony Express and Transcontinental Railroad, a vital step in the settlement of the West.
|Copyright © 2006 T. Risinger|