Driver's Guide to the Butterfield Overland Mail Route
New book available locally.
Volume One follows the route from Tipton, Missouri, to the Oklahoma / Texas border. Every confirmed stage stop along the line has been located and pinpointed to specific latitude and longitude. Point-to-point maps, specific driving directions and historical information are included for every station. Most include historical or current photographs of the site.
Volume Two (Texas and New Mexico) is scheduled for release during the Last Quarter of 2008. Volume Three (Arizona and California) is due for release in the First Quarter, 2009. To arrange for book signings or for additional information, contact Marilyn Heifner at (479) 587-9944.
KIRBY SANDERS on KUAF'S Ozarks at Large
The Driver’s Guide
to the Butterfield Overland Mail Background
Journalist Kirby Sanders took an interest in the project and began collaborating with John McLarty on documenting the route through Benton, Washington, Crawford and Sebastian Counties in Northwest Arkansas. That preliminary research was completed in 2002. Sanders and McLarty successfully plotted the coach trail from the Arkansas-Missouri border through to the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.
Kirby Sanders began his career in newspaper journalism and research during the early 1970s with the Houston (TX) Chronicle. He began at the Chronicle as a copy boy and was among the last at that organization to be promoted through the ranks to a position as writer and reporter.
During the 1980s, he continued his writing career as a freelance writer and photographer specializing in the travel and tourism areas as well as pursuing a passion for literature and poetry. In 1985 he was an invited contributor to From Hide and Horn, A Sesquicentennial Anthology of Texas Poets (a historical anthology of living Texas Writers, compiled by Edmund and Peggy Zuleika Lynch; Eakin Press; Austin, TX)
In the early 1990s, he returned to daily journalism in East Texas. During that time, his signature research pieces included a series of articles mapping and identifying the Historical Markers of Henderson County for the Athens (TX) Daily Review. He also authored a series of notable articles focusing on an important aspect of the 1963 Civil Rights movement in Alabama.
In 1997, he brought his family to Arkansas and continued his career as a writer and journalist, reporting on local events as well as tracking national-interest stories.
His initial research into the Butterfield Overland Mail Route earned a 2002 Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association. Several other articles and essays from that period have received recognition as well.
“News has never been about the latest gossip,” Sanders maintains. “If there is nothing to be learned from it, it isn’t important. History becomes news when we suddenly discover its modern relevance. Anyone who doesn’t know where they came from will never understand where they are going.”
Presently, Kirby Sanders maintains his residence in Northwest Arkansas and is the proud father of two children -- daughter Gaia and son Tristan. Besides continuing independent historical research projects, he works as a studio technician for a local television station and as a freelance writer and editor of television and film scripts.
The Heritage Trail Partners organization was formed in 2002 as an educational organization to spread the word about the historical importance of Northwest Arkansas as a crossroads of the Butterfield Stagecoach Road, the earlier Trail of Tears Indian movements and the later Civil War transit routes through Northwest Arkansas.
From 2002 - 2008, Heritage Trail Partners became an important advocacy organization for state and national recognition of these historical transportation corridors. Meanwhile, Sanders continued his research on the Butterfield Route from Tipton, Missouri, all the way to its terminus in San Francisco, California. The study included the main Missouri-California line as well as the primary feeder route between Memphis, Tennessee and Fort Smith, Arkansas.
By 2008, research was completed on the entire 2,800 mile route of the original Butterfield Overland mail system. Operated by John Butterfield’s American Express Company from 1858-1861 in partnership with directors of the Wells Fargo Company, the Butterfield Overland Mail was the first organization to carry mail from coast-to-coast in the United States. The Overland Route cut the time required for coast-to-coast mail from three months in transit to just under one month.
Volume One of the Driver’s Guide, presently being released, is the first in a three volume series that details the modern location of the stagecoach route through Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Richly illustrated and mapped, this first volume sets out the route through Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Volume Two will follow the route through Texas and New Mexico while Volume Three will complete the route through Arizona and New Mexico. The second nd third volumes are expected to be published by the end of 2009.