North vs. South and Land vs. Ocean

“By the end of 1858, United States mail was transmitted from the East to West by six different routes. The four overland lines in operation were:

  • Central route by “joint venture” of Chorpenning-Hockaday Company. They provided weekly mail-passenger service from Missouri to California, via Salt Lake City.
  • South-central route by Jacob Hall;, who provided monthly mail and limited passenger service from Kansas City to Stockton, California, via Santa Fe.
  • Southern route by the famous Butterfield line, which provided semi-weekly mail/passsenger service from St. Louis to San Francisco, via El Paso, Texas.
  • Southern extreme route operated by James E. Birch, who provided semi-weekly mail/passenger service from San Antonio, Texas to San Diego, California, via El Paso and Fort Yuma.

In addition to these overland routes, in 1858, there were two ocean mail-passenger routes. They were:

  • Atlantic route from New York City to San Francisco operated by three companies, the United States Mail Steamship Company, the Panama Railroad Company, and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. This line ran a semi-monthly mail-passenger service via the Isthmus of Panama.
  • Gulf of Mexico route from New Orleans to San Francisco via Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This route was operated by the Louisiana Tehuantepec Company, which ran a semi-monthly mail/passenger service.

With all the routes taken together, the postal outlay for the six different routes amounted to $4.14 for each person, whereas elsewhere in the nation, the postal expenses reached only $.41 for each person.”