Butterfield Overland Mail debuted 150 years ago

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A dusty stagecoach roared into a bleak place called San Jose 150 years ago this week, got fresh horses and raced off into history.

For 1858, this was a giant leap in modern communications.

Monday marks the sesquicentennial of the first transcontinental stagecoach mail route, bringing California and the Inland Empire far closer to the rest of the United States.

That San Jose stage stop, later called Spadra, is now part of today's Pomona.

On Sept. 15, 1858, the first eastbound stage of the Butterfield Overland Mail Co. left San Francisco for a 25-day trip that took it south through latter-day Pomona, Chino and Corona, east to El Paso, across Texas, and then northeast to St. Louis, the farthest west railroads then had reached.

A day later, the first stage left St. Louis for the West Coast...

In those times, it was a major effort to get word from one coast to the other. It took more than six weeks by clipper ships and mule (across Panama) for word of California's 1850 statehood to arrive in San Francisco.

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