This section of The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues is focused on the interesting and romantic postal history of the American West. In that context, it covers a broad range of topics, starting with the opening of the West in the 1840’s and the gold rush expresses which followed shortly thereafter. San Francisco, which evolved into the “golden gateway” of the West, plays a central role in this section, as it grew to become the hub of most postal routes serving the West. These routes include steamship routes to and from the Eastern U.S. via Central America, and overland routes across the North American continent, such as the transcontinental Pony Express. Additional routes covered by this section include trans-Pacific routes to and from Hawaii, the Far East and British Columbia. Finally, the section includes the very interesting postal history of the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest.
Articles in this section address many aspects of the Western mails, including special postal markings, the rates of postage, frankings, steamships that carried the mails across the oceans, and the history associated with the development of Western postal routes. A good example of a Western letter is shown below.
The Western Express journal has published many terrific articles on the American West over the years. The intent of this section is to supplement and enhance the work that they are doing. Hopefully, the articles presented in this section will also expand the knowledge and appreciation of Western postal history in the broader audience addressed by the Chronicle.
Shown above, a letter from fur trader Nathaniel Wyeth datelined two thirds the way across July 14th 1832 and written at the Pierre¹s Hole fur trade rendezvous. He endorsed the letter fav of Mr. Wm. L Sublette. Sublette was a famous fur trader who was returning from the rendezvous to Missouri, so he carried Wyeth¹s letter to St Louis where he posted it unpaid on October 5, 1832. It was rated for 25 cents postage due to Baltimore. This is the earliest known trans-Rocky Mountain letter known.