The Butterfield Overland Mail Co. began operations through Northwest Arkansas in September 1858 and continued with its transcontinental stagecoach operation until the advent of the Civil War.
The stagecoach line, which carried mail and passengers from St. Louis, Mo., to San Francisco, Calif., in under 26 days, proved to be one of many economic stimuli to the Fayetteville area during the late 1850s. The Butterfield operation, itself, established a major stable and wagonworks at Fayetteville along with construction of a hotel, the Butterfield house, operated by Charles Butterfield, a son of John Butterfield, owner and manager of the line.
But the operations also provided stronger, better connections between Fayetteville and the northern cities such as St. Louis and Cincinnati. Not being near a navigable river, Fayetteville merchants relied on overland teamsters to bring in supplies and drygoods from larger manufacturing centers. While the Butterfield Line didn't transport these goods, its consistent use of the roads brought along other transportation-related companies.
Follow this link to see a history of the entire route.
For those wishing to following the historic route of the Butterfield Overland Mail Company, the map below shows the original stagecoach route with historic spots noted along the way. So far, we have the sections pretty well detailed through Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and part of Texas, but intend to add the rest of the route as time permits. There are parts of the trail that have been lost to time, especially the Texas section, where few roads ever developed along the old route. Go to the link below the map to get more detail.
View Butterfield Stage Route-Arkansas in a larger map