Butterfield Moves to the Central Route

On March 2nd [after Confederate troops had destroyed Butterfield’s line in Missouri and Texas] , to solve the contracting predicament with the C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. and Overland Mail Company, and to protect communication lines with California, both houses of Congress, with President Buchanan’s approval, modified the Overland Mail Company mail service contract by discontinuing the transportation of mail along the southern route and transferring it to a new central overland route. This new service would originate in St. Joseph, (or Atchison, in Kansas) and provide mail service to Placerville, California, six times a week. In addition to this new route, the contract required that the company ‘run a pony express semi-weekly at a schedule time of ten days . . . charging the public for transportation of letters by said express not exceeding $1 per half ounce’ until the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line. Essentially the federal government turned the western half of the central route mail contract (Salt Lake City to Placerville, California) that the C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. previously operated over to the Overland Mail Company. In exchange for giving this segment of the passenger/mail route to the Overland Mail Company, the government promised to indirectly support the Pony Express until the completion of the telegraph.