Short as the life of the Southern Overland Mail turned out to be - less than three years in its span - the saga of the Butterfield Trail remains a romantic high point in the westward movement, forming familiar elements in historical plots, functioning as a vibrant backdrop against which mythic adventures, western thrillers, movie serials, and television spectacles have raced.
Today, more than a century and a third after the first Butterfield coaches rolled, we are hard put to imagine how awesome, how fearful the actual passage was.
In 1858 Waterman Lily Ormsby, Jr., recorded his experiences on the first Butterfield Overland Mail coach traveling from Missouri to San Francisco. In the 1930s Roscoe and Margaret Conkling drove the route again in the 1930 Buick and published three volumes of their research. Now A.C. and Judy Greene have made a 1990s version of the ride in their own "celerity wagon"--A Lincoln Mark VII.
Incorporating newly found historical documents and changes in the landscape, as well as exploring myths and legends that surround the Butterfield Trail, Greene's account is the latest tribute to the 2800-mile drama that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast.