First Call for Mail to Oregon

The first agitation for mail service to the Pacific Coast was promoted by immigrants to Oregon. In March, 1847, a bill to provide this service, which included the building of five steamships under the supervision of the secretary of the navy, was passed by Congress. While the ships were being constructed, contracts for transporting the mail to Oregon via the Isthmus of Panama were let.  . . . The service was to be once a month, with a stop at the infant town of San Francisco. While the first steamer, the California, was en route to the Pacific around Cape Horn, gold was discovered at Sutter’s mill. When the ship reached San Francisco she was left stranded in the bay by her entire crew, who stampeded off to the gold diggings.