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Overland via Stagecoach

Overland via Stagecoach
From 1852 to 1918, Wells Fargo rushed customers’ important business by any means - steamship, railroad, and, where the railroads ended, by stagecoach. At first Wells Fargo contracted with independent stageline owners. Then in the great enterprise of building reliable transcontinental transportation, Wells Fargo came to own and operate the largest stagecoach empire in the world.

Since then, Wells Fargo has been forever linked with the six-horse Concord Coach charging across the vast plains and high mountains of the West.

On the Butterfield
In 1857 Wells Fargo joined other express companies to form the Overland Mail Company, establishing regular twice-a-week mail service between St. Louis and San Francisco. (Until the stageline, communications east and west was twice a month by steamship.)

Wells Fargo got the route surveyed and shared in the financing. Nicknamed the “Butterfield Line” after its president, John Butterfield, it ran 2,757 miles through the Southwest via El Paso and Los Angeles and then up through California’s Central Valley to San Francisco.

Night and day the stage rolled on at a pace from 5 to 12 miles an hour, across vast, treeless plains, jagged mountain passes, scorching deserts, and rivers cursed with quicksand. The coached stopped only to change horses or let passengers slug down a cup of coffee with their beef jerky and biscuits. About 25 days later, it clattered into San Francisco!
On the Butterfield
The Central Route and the Pony Express
In 1861 the Civil War forced overland staging to a central route across the Great Plains, through the Rocky Mountains, into the Great Basin, and over the Sierra. The Pony Express had proven that the nation’s mail could be carried swiftly across this rugged route.

Along this route mail, passengers and Wells Fargo’s express rode the stages of the Pioneer Stage Line from California to Virginia City, Nevada. The Overland Mail Company, by now under Wells Fargo’s control, ran coaches from Virginia City to Salt Lake City, Utah. There, mail and passengers connected with Ben Holladay’s Overland Express running through Denver, Colorado, and eastward to the Mississippi.