Western Overland Routes


P13 August 2018 Update - The sale is over. Any unsold items have been moved to regular inventory on the census site. Page is here.

Section 2. Routes between California and Utah, 1851 to 1861

For background information, see my one page summary PDF file here
also, Chapter 7 in MWE book here

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Ordering Information - Items that have red stock numbers and "sold" have been sold but prices will remain online as a value guide and reference. Please email me to confirm availability and order by stock number.

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sold $3,500

[Hawaii via San Francisco and the Central Route, 1851] Ford correspondence cover of April 1851 from missionary E.K. Whittlesey in Hawaii, by ship Cheerful that arrived in San Francisco on June 1 (postmark with integral 80 due) missing the PMSS sailing and carried on the new Chorpenning / Woodson composite overland route via Salt Lake City, mail arrived in Salt Lake City on July 2 and arrived in Independence on July 24

(MWE Figure 7-19), ex Walske

sold $5,250

[Westbound  from Salt Lake City Utah T, 1851] manuscript July 1st 1851 postmark and "W. Richards P.M. Free" free frank on folded cover to W. Van Voorheis, Secretary of State, San Jose, California, left July 1 on the first westbound Chorpenning trip, the first westbound contract mail from Sal Lake City, harassed by Indians in Carson Valley before arrival, docket as received 1 August 1851 (in Vallejo presumably)

(MWE Figure 7-18), ex Walske

sold $5,000

[Grattan Massacre, Sent back to England] March 26, 1854 postmark of Morpeth, England on prepaid letter addressed to a member of Lt. Genl. Garnett's Company G, 6th Infantry, Fort Laramie, Oregon Route,  but mis-directed to Oregon, carried by RMSP and PMSC steamers via Panama to San Francisco on May 16, San Francisco Jun 1 postmark and boxed "Misset" handstamp, sent on overland Chorpenning mail that arrived mid August at Fort Laramie, letter marked “Sent Back to England Without A Reason For Non Delivery," (presumably soldier have been killed, or deserted), letter aged but an amazing use

Lt. John Grattan led Company G of the 6th Infantry from Fort Laramie to a confrontation with Sioux Indians near the fort. His command of 29 men was wiped out on August 19, 1854. The “Grattan Massacre” ignited the 1854-56 First Sioux War.

(MWE Figure 7-9), ex Walske

sold $9,500

[Via California Phantom Rate, 1855] blue Salt Lake City January 5 (1855) postmark  ting pair 3c dull red (#11) to 3c red Nesbitt entire endorsed "Via California" by sender and addressed to New Jersey, prepaid “phantom” 9c rate (3c rate to California plus 6c transcontinental rate to New York), carried in Chorpenning mail which left on January 5 and arrived in Los Angeles on February 3 PMSC steamer Golden Age left San Francisco on February 16 for Panama, connected with USMSC steamer Illinois at Panama for New York on March 12, cover minor edge faults, three “phantom rate” covers are known

Some Salt Lake City to Independence mail was diverted to California when the winter snows closed the eastbound route. The Salt Lake City postmaster created a short-lived 9 cents “phantom rate” for this mail, consisting of the 3 cents rate to California plus the 6 cents transcontinental rate to New York.

(MWE Figure 7-8), ex Risvold and Walske

sold $7,500

[Hawaii to Utah, 1855] Hawaii 5c blue (#5) tied to cover to Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory by red Honolulu Hawaiian Island November 3 postmark, carried by ship Yankee, San Francisco December 1, 1855 postmark and "Ship 5" due handstamp,  left Los Angeles on December 5 trip of Chorpenning contract mail which arrived December 30 in Salt Lake City, PF cert, cover has been cleaned and restored

Chorpenning’s monthly contract was renewed on July 1, 1854. This contract was shifted to the southern route via Los Angeles.

(MWE Figure 7-21), ex Walske

price $15,000


[Utah to Hawaii, 1856] blue Salt Lake City Utah February 1 (1856) postmark on 6c green Nesbitt entire to Whitney in Honolulu, carried on the Chorpenning route via Nevada and over the Old Spanish Trail to San Pedro, then by steamer to San Francisco, carried by American Clipper ship Resolute that departed San Francisco on March 25 and arrived Honolulu on April 14, pencil docket to left

(MWE Figure 7-22), ex Risvold and Walske

price $2,750


[Utah via California to England, 1857] blue Salt Lake City Utah January 2 (1857) postmark, "Paid" handstamp and 29c rate on cover endorsed "Via California" to Liverpool, England, carried on the Chorpenning route via Nevada and over the Old Spanish Trail to San Pedro, then via San Francisco, Panama to New York to catch the Cunard Line steamer Persia for Liverpool, red America Liverpool Paid March 28 1857 arrival postmark, cover restored at top left

The sender wisely chose to send via California as the January 7 eastbound mail from Salt Lake was forced by snow to return to Salt Lake City

(MWE Figure 7-11), ex Walske


[Fort Laramie to Benicia] cover from Fort Laramie addressed to Lt. James McPherson at San Francisco, prepaid 10c rate with three copies 3c dull red (#25) tied with 1c blue (#24" by blue Fort Laramie, Nebraska Territory January 12 postmarks, manuscript "Missent" and Benicia February 7 postmark, cover lightened edge stain at foot

(MWE figure 7-5) ex Walske

price $22,500


[Camp Floyd to USS Decatur at Panama, 1859] manuscript Camp Floyd Utah Territory February 7 (1859) postmark tying 3c dull red (#26) to cover to USS Decatur to the care of US Consul at Panama, New Grenada, "Via California" directive, held for postage and received the new rimless arc handstamped postmark of April 18 with "Paid 20c" rate when the postage was received, a unique use

(MWE Figure 7-26), ex Risvold and Walske

Directives for Central Route Mail
sold $27,500

[Per Overland Mail via Placerville and Salt Lake, Hurrah!] But we must have the (train), the iconic mountain and train illustrated design by the noted firm of Hutchinson & Rosenfield, San Francisco cover to Bath C.H., Virginia with 10c green, (#35) tied by San Francisco October 7 1859 postmark, Chorpenning failed to pick up this mail at Placerville which led to loss of contract, mail was carried by an October 12 Pioneer Stage Co. coach from Placerville to Salt Lake City on October 21 then by the October 21 LPPE coach from Salt Lake to St Joseph, Missouri on November 11

(MWE Figure 7-28) ex Lehman, Grunin, Haas, Jarrett and Walske

sold $20,000

[Overland Mail via Placerville & Salt Lake] six horse stage illustrated design, orange cover with "Published by Randal & Co., Marysville" imprint used to North Bucksport, Maine, 10c green (#35) tied by Oroville, California December 21, 1859 postmark, the Pioneer Stage was given a trip contract to carry the December 28 mail halfway to Salt Lake City where it connected with the Chorpenning agent who took the mail to Salt Lake City on January 9, then it was carried by the January 13 LPPE coach from Salt Lake to St Joseph, Missouri on February 4, extremely fine

(MWE Figure 7-29) ex William West, Risvold and Walske

sold $2,000

[Overland via Central Route] manuscript directive on legal size cover addressed to Denver, Kansas Territory with block of six 3c dull red (#26) and horizontal pair 1c Blue (#24) cancelled by two bold strikes of “Georgetown, California February 3 (1861) datestamp, Hinckley's Express Denver City datestamp for delivery to the mines from the post office, cover repaired at top right, very fine use

ex Risvold and Walske


[Overland via Salt Lake] manuscript directive on 10c green Nesbitt entire used to Maine, Auburn, California September 14 postmark, edge faults

ex Walske



[Westbound Overland] cover with manuscript "Overland" directive, 3c dull red (#26) paying short distance rate to Grizzly Flatt, California tied by Lincoln, Illinois postmark, original 1859 letter dated from Big Prarie, Illinois, cover left St Joseph on January 3, 1860 for Salt Lake and reached Placerville around February 10

(MWE figure 7-16) ex Walske

price $7,500


[Combination Central Route & Butterfield Route Use] December 1859 use from Carson City with "Via California & Southern Overland" directive on entire to Ohio, convenience use of Langton's Pioneer Express franked 10c Green Nesbitt entire, manuscript "Carson City Dec 29th" postmark (Utah Territory at this date), cover edges cleaned and pressed crease

This cover was carried westbound from Carson City on the Central Route (Third Chorpenning Contract) via Placerville to San Francisco and then on Butterfield Southern Overland Route. Most covers carried west from Carson Valley in this period (those from Pardon Brown correspondence) were carried from San Francisco via Panama.

Sacramento newspaper (shown here) shows that the westbound Central Overland Route mail arrived at Genoa on 1 January 1860 which is consistent with a prior departure from Carson City on 29 December 1859.

ex Kramer

Richard Frajola (July 29, 2018)