Brown’s Choice of the Southern Route

“[Postmaster] Brown justified his choice to his northern critics by stating that repeated failures to carry the mail along the central route on a regular basis because of impassable snow conditions swayed his decision. Brown argued that the southern route was superior to the central overland route for winter travel, that the government was constructing a wagon road between the Rio Grande and Fort Yuma, and finally, that a southern route would serve our national interests in dealing with Mexico.

Though Brown and others did not mention this issue, the central route was also not chosen because the United States was technically at war with the Mormon church for resisting the authority of the federal government. During the “Utah War” of 1857, it was clear that the United States could not control the central trail without great military effort, which was another reason to avoid selecting the overland route at this time.”