Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Smokey Hill River Trail to the Butterfield Overland Dispatch

Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Tandem Ox Yoke
 Photo (C) Doris McCraw

The Smokey Hill River Trail, one of the more treacherous routes to the Colorado Gold Fields, gave way to the Butterfield Overland Dispatch in 1865. This stage line only ran for about a year before its purchase by Ben Holliday, known as the "Stagecoach King". Holliday in turn sold to Wells Fargo who sold to the United States Express Company.

According to records, the cost for an individual ticket was $175.00 one way. There were a total of thirty-nine stage stops along the trail. It was here passengers could purchase a meal for an additional fifty cents to one dollar.

Map of the Smokey Hill Trail 
from Legends of America

Additionally, the Army built several forts along this route to protect travelers from attacks. The Smokey River was a favored hunting ground for the Plains Indians. Some of the Forts along the trail were: Fort Downer, Fort Hays, Fort Harker, Fort Monument, and Fort Wallace.

Despite the presence of the Army, the attacks cost the stage line but ultimately it was the railroad that resulted in the end of the travel on the trail but what stories you find when you start researching.

From the Smokey Hill River Trail exhibit at the Elbert County
Historical Society & Museum
Photo (C) Doris McCraw

As for the forts, some of the names probably sound familiar and many are now museums.

For those who might be interested here is a link to a PBS show talking about Four-Mile-House, the last stage stop before arriving in Denver. Four-Mile House

Until Next Time Stay Safe & Stay Well



Julie Lence said...

That was a hefty cost for a ticket for that era, lol. I still want to take a ride in a stagecoach, but not that far. Thanks for sharing Doris.

Renaissance Women said...

Julie, the cost caught me off-guard, but seems folk would pay that.

I've been on a research journey on the Smokey Hill River Trail and just keep finding more. Doris

Julie Lence said...

Doris: That's awesome. Everytime I travel thru Kansas, I see something new that is history related. Colorado is the same, when I get out and about. And Utah. The other states I haven't been to...yet.

Deborah said...

Interesting stuff! Loved it.

Renaissance Women said...

It is fascinating to travel and learn so much, isn't it? Doris

Renaissance Women said...

Thank you, Deborah. If I could just research and nothing else I'd be happy. But as my friend said, 'What good is all that research if you don't share it?' So, I try. Doris