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Stagecoach Lines - Page 2

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American Express (1850-present) - Started as an express mail business in Albany, New York, in 1850, the company was formed from John Butterfield's, Butterfield, Wasson & Company, merging with his two rivals, Wells & Company and Livingston, Fargo & Company. Two years later, the same founders would also start Wells, Fargo & Co. in 1852 when Butterfield and other directors objected to the proposal that American Express extend its operations to distant California. The company  first established its headquarters in at the intersection of Jay and Hudson Streets in what is now the TriBeCa section of Manhattan, New York.


For several years, the company enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the movement of express shipments, including goods, securities and currency in New York State. They expanded in 1958 when the company won the government contract for the first transcontinental stage line, carrying the mail from Missouri to California and receiving $600,000 per year.



American Express, 1858

American Express and employees in 1858, by Otto Botticher.

This image available for photographic prints and

 downloads HERE!

When finalized, the new mail contract was the largest that had ever been awarded. A subsidiary called the Butterfield Overland Stage Company was formed to handle the mail. However, the success of the mail route was short-lived, as it was forced to discontinue service when the Civil War broke out. American Express survived the discontinuance of stage lines when the railroad pushed through by expanding into financial services, which it continues to this day. 


Barlow & Sanderson Company (1862?-1881?) - Established by Vermont men, Jared L. Sanderson and Bradley Barlow during the Civil War, the Barlow-Sanderson Overland Mail Company first carried the mail and operated a stage line between Sedalia and Warrensburg, Missouri and by 1863, was also operating a line from Kansas City, Missouri to Fort Scott, Kansas. In 1866, they began to expand westward and transferred their headquarters from Kansas City to Junction City, Colorado. By 1867, the two entrepreneurs had established a route from Missouri to California over the Santa Fe Trail and changed the name to the Barlow and Sanderson Company. They also had a number of shorter routes such as Fort Larned, Kansas to Fort Lyon, Colorado and Bents Fort to Pueblo, Colorado. By 1869, they were concentrating their efforts on expanding their routes in Colorado due to the bomming mining industry. In July, 1870, the Company bought out the Denver and Santa Fe Stage Line and renamed it the Southern Overland Mail and Express. Later that year, in December, they moved their headquarters to Denver. The company continued to grow in Colorado, becoming the largest stage line in the area and in 1874, the headquarters moved again to Granada, Colorado.


Two years later, despite rumors of bribery and corruption within the company, the stage line continued to expand. However, by 1878, Bradley Barlow withdrew and the name of the company was changed to J.L. Sanderson and Company Overland Stage and Express Line.

In 1879, the railroad was pushing through Colorado, dramatically cutting into the stage line business but the company hung on for several more years, once again relocating its headquarters to Buena Vista. Though business was down, the stage lines continued to operate into the 1880's, though often plagued by bandits.


Butterfield Overland Dispatch (1865-1870) - Initially developed by David A. Butterfield (no relation to John W. Butterfield) in 1865 on the Smoky Hill Trail, the line ran from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado, in direct competition of Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company. Though other trails had been blazed along here, stage lines had not been successful due a scarcity of water and frequent Indian attacks. However, David Butterfield was determined that it could be profitable. The smooth-talking businessman soon obtained capital for the "Butterfield Overland Dispatch" and the first train left Atchison on June 4, 1865, arriving in Denver on September 23rd.



Along the 592 mile long route, relay stations were built about every twelve miles, for passenger’s rest, food, and changing of horses. The line was an initial success, providing tri-weekly express service between Atchison and Denver in only 8-12 days.


Soldiers were also posted along the pathway at Fort Downer, Fort Harker, Fort Monument, Fort Wallace and other stops to protect the stations and the travelers from Indian attacks. However, the soldiers could not keep up with the furious Indians who felt their land was being invaded. Additionally, these "Indians" were not always as they appeared, but were allegedly Ben Holladay's hired men dressed in Indian attire, who not only frightened those on the coaches, but also robbed them and burned their equipment and supplies.


By January, 1866 the David Butterfield's Overland Dispatch was in serious financial trouble and the company was reorganized with David Bray becoming the president. However, it was too little too late and just two months later, the line was sold to their competitor, Ben Holladay. Later that year, Holladay, sold it to Wells-Fargo. During this time, the Kansas Pacific Railroad was also pushing towards Denver and by 1870, the stage line was no longer needed.



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From Legends' Photo Shop

Vintage Old West photo prints and downloads from Legends' Photo Shop.Vintage Photographs of the Old West - From Legends' Photo Print Shop, you'll find hundreds of vintage images of the Old West that can be ordered in prints or downloaded for commercial use. Providing dramatic glimpses into the rich heritage of the American West, see famous characters including notorious outlaws and lawmen, cowboys and trailblazers, and more; transportation including covered wagons and stagecoaches; Saloons, Gambling & Women; Westward Expansion, and everything in between.

Vintage Old West photo prints and downloads from Legends' Photo Shop.


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