Replica Stagecoach at Elk Horn Tavern
Pea Ridge National Military Park.
Butterfield Stagecoach Route
In 1858 John Butterfield began operating the
longest stagecoach run in the history of the world. Butterfield’s
mail coaches ran from Tipton, Missouri to San Francisco, right
through Northwest Arkansas. The mileage of the route was approximately
2,800 miles. Coaches were to run each way twice a week. Having
25 days to make each run, the coaches traveled day and night to
meet this deadline. There were stage stops every 20 miles or so
to change teams.
The first westbound Butterfield Stage
stopped at Callahan’s Station in present
day Rogers on September 18, 1858, a Saturday morning. It was then
down through Cross Hollow on the way to Fitzgerald’s Station
in modern day Springdale (then Shiloh). The stage arrived in Fayetteville
at 11:00 a.m. that Saturday morning and left at 10 minutes till
noon on the way south toward the rugged Boston Mountains on the
way to Van Buren and Fort Smith.
Of the route from Fayetteville
to Fort Smith it was said by one of the first riders, “I
might say the road was steep, rugged, jagged, rough, and mountainous
and then wish for more impressive words”.
This first westbound stage arrived in San
Francisco on October 10, 1858, one day ahead of schedule. The
Butterfield Stagecoach ran from 1858 till 1861. It is said that
Texas and Arkansas Rebels confiscated many of the coaches and
horses for the war effort.