Overland Mails of the Westward Expansion

Exhibit of Steve Walske
PDF file of full exhibit here

This exhibit examines the overland postal routes that connected the expanding American West with the rest of the world. The 1803 Louisiana Purchase and 1845-48 territorial acquisitions tripled the United States’ territory and moved its western frontier from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Letter communications played a crucial role in enabling the consolidation of these new territories, but the Post Office Department waited until 1847 to establish the first western post office, and until 1850 to establish the first contract overland route into the new territories. Before that, private parties carried the small amount of mail sent. The period covered by this exhibit begins with the earliest known mail from the Rocky Mountains by fur traders in 1832, and concludes with the May 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Frame 1

(click on thumbnail page for full image)

Frame 2

Frame 3

Frame 4

Frame 5

Frame 6

Richard Frajola (July 2015)