Over these tracks passed the Butterfield Stage, 1858-1861, providing for first time in history a combined passenger and mail service from Atlantic to Pacific coast. Operating westward from St. Louis and Memphis, John Butterfield's company used 1,350 mules and horses and 90 Concord coaches and wagons.
Stages traveled rapidly, despite lack of real roads. A signal given approaching a station would assure food on table for travelers, and fresh horses ready.
Stations were 12 to 113 miles apart. Route changes were often made to obtain water. The passengers and crew wore guns. Indians liked horses, so to reduce the danger of Indian attacks, mules were used west of Ft. Belknap. Trip one way took 25 days - 7 consumed in crossing Texas, from near Preston (now under Lake Texoma) to Jacksboro, Ft. Belknap, Ft. Chadbourne, and El Paso. One-way fare for the 2,700 miles was $200.
This marks a 113-mile span, from Emigrants' Crossing (82 mi. S) to Pope's Crossing (31 mi. N), that on inaugural trip, Sept. 16-Oct. 12, 1858, had no team-change. Route ran parallel to Pecos River. By November there were 3 change stations in this area, one being Skillman's Stop (6 mi. N). Route was shortened in 1860, going by Forts Stockson, Davis and Quitman, west of the Pecos.