Butterfield Stage

When we went to San Diego County last week, we explored some parts of California where we’d never been, even though I’ve lived here for four decades, and it’s not that far. We took a road through the desert from Highway 78 east of Julian south to I-8 at Ocatillo, and we passed by an historical monument for the stage route that ran from St. Louis to San Francisco from 1858 to 1861. It was a 25-day trip, stopping only to change horses and drivers. The monument pointed out that some Mormons had hacked their way through rock to get through the mountains west of Yuma, and then the route had headed north from there to Chino Hills and Los Angeles, then up to San Francisco taking the route of what is now I-5. When we cut across from Perris to I-15 to see the flowers in Riverside County, we ran across more signs for the stage route. Interesting bit of history.

5 thoughts on “Butterfield Stage”

  1. Interesting…looking at the map in the link, the route of the old stage appears to run right by a somewhat rural area that had a good steak restaurant, called the Butterfield Stage, that I took a date to a few times. I had no idea the name had actual historical significance.

    1. It almost certainly did. Driving around the area, which I hadn’t done much of, despite it being less than a hundred miles away, I noticed a lot of Butterfield signs. He was the Howard Johnson of his day.

  2. There were once many stagecoach companies in the Old West. The most famous is Wells Fargo, but Butterfield was also a prominent operator. Both are mentioned frequently in the novels of Louis L’Amour so I guess neither of you guys are among his readership.

    As for Howard Johnson, there were no lodging or restaurant chains along stagecoach lines. The first chain restaurants and lodgings were Fred Harvey’s Harvey House establishments along train routes starting in 1876. The Judy Garland musical The Harvey Girls is based on this bit of U.S. history.

  3. The Mormons would have been the Mormon Battalion. These were volunteers Brigham Young talked into signing up to support the Mexican War in hopes of getting some goodwill from the federal government. This was just after Joseph Smith was killed, and the Mormons were mostly camped out in Iowa before heading out to Utah. Since the government hadn’t done much to help the Mormons when they got burned out of Missouri or Illinois, nobody was really jumping to sign up.

    The Mormon Battalion did what they could, though, and in return, the government sent the US Army to occupy Utah for the “Mormon War”. Sometimes you can’t win.

Comments are closed.