Concord-Style stagecoach model
This model of a U.S. mail stagecoach depicts the1858 vehicle created in the Concord, New Hampshire, shop of the Abbott-Downing Company known as the 'Concord'. Easily recognized by its bright orange and red colors and fancy decorations, this style was put into use across the U.S. in the mid- to late-nineteenth century.
No overland mail route existed in the United States prior to 1858. Before that, ships transported mail between the east and west coasts. In 1857, the Post Office Department contracted with John Butterfield to carry mail between Tipton, Missouri, and San Francisco, California. The contract was let for $600,000 per year, an unheard of sum at the time for postal contracts. Butterfield's Overland Mail stages began traversing the 2,600 mile-long route on September 16, 1858. The route took a southerly direction to avoid snow-covered mountain passes and provide year-round service. Stations were built at about twenty miles intervals along the route to allow for fresh horses and mules.
Although no trans-continental route existed until the fall of 1858, stages carried mail and passengers along routes throughout the West. Most stagecoach companies relied on postal contracts for financial liquidity. These funds ensured the companies of a steady, reliable income, which passenger and freight traffic did not provide. Organized to connect population centers across the West, routes varied in length. In Texas alone, over thirty stage lines carried mail, passengers, or freight.