1994 29¢ Overland Mail
Legends of the West
Issue Date: October 18, 1994
City: Laramie, WY, Tucson, AZ and Lawton, OK
Quantity: 19,282,800 panes
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 10.1 x 10
Like Americans everywhere, the ’49ers in California wanted to get their mail, but 2,000 miles of desert and treacherous mountain passes lay between them and the end of the eastern mail lines. As a result, mail traveled by ship and across the Isthmus of Panama. In 1850 it took Californians six weeks to learn their territory had become a state. Outraged, they clamored for faster mail service.
Although various companies set up stagecoach runs from the Missouri frontier to the West, the service was unreliable and oftentimes inefficient. In 1857, Congress finally took action and directed the Postmaster General to accept bids for establishing an overland mail service. A year later the Butterfield Overland Mail Company opened a regular service between St. Louis, Missouri and a jubilant California. The trip was a jolting 25-day ordeal that traveled 2,800 miles through the burning desert – home to the hostile Apache Indians.
Not surprisingly, the stagecoach mail run lasted two years before the Pony Express rode into history. On April 3, 1860, the first rider streaked westward from St. Joseph, Missouri, arriving in Sacramento just nine days and 23 hours later. But the glory of the Pony Express was short-lived. By 1861, advancing railroads and the telegraph brought a close to another chapter in American history.