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In 1853 the United States bought the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico. This was land in what is now New Mexico and Arizona south of the Gila River. It was purchased in order to have a snow-free route from the rest of the United States to California.
From 1857 to 1861 a mail and stage coach route was used called the Butterfield Overland Mail, or Oxbow Route, or Butterfield Overland Stage. The route went from eastern terminals at St. Louis and Memphis and joined at Fort Smith, Arkansas. From there it went through Indian Territory (Oklahoma), El Paso (Texas), New Mexico, Yuma (Arizona), and into California north to San Francisco. The Wells Fargo and American Express companies operated this stage coach and mail service contract.
In 1861 Congress discontinued this mail route in favor of the Central Overland California (St. Joseph, Missouri to Placerville, California).
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