Butterfield and the News

From 1849 to 1858 the California press depended on the Panama Mail steamers for its eastern and European news. A great improvement came with the beginning of the overland mail service over the Butterfield route between St. Louis and San Francisco on September 15, 1858. To the California papers it meant receiving news dispatches and eastern papers twice a week instead of semimonthly as before; and what was also important, the news was now only three weeks old and less, whereas before it was from twenty-five to thirty days out-of-date. With the beginning of the overland mail service, St. Louis became in a very short time the clearinghouse for nearly all the eastern and European news coming to California. News from all over the East and that arriving by ship from Europe was telegraphed to St. Louis where a correspondent sifted it, collated it, and forwarded it on each stage to California in the form of a newsletter. . . .

Note 53: At first the overland mail took sometimes as long as twenty-six days to make the transcontinental trip, but the average time during this period was about twenty-one days, about a week better than the average time the mail came through by steamer.