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Stage Delivers Mail between Sacramento and Portland

The opening of the Sacramento to Portland stage line by the California Stage Company in 1860 was of great significance. The company boasted 750 horses, with investment capital topping $1 million and roads totaling 450 miles.  By 1865, the company had 1,250 horses, with more than 1,000 miles of roads, including 400 miles into Oregon and 100 miles into Nevada.

The government contract paid $90,000 to ensure delivery every seven days from April 1 to Dec. 1, and every 12 days from Dec. 2 to March 31.  California cities connected by the service included Chico, Tehama, Red Bluff, Cottonwood, Shasta, French Gulch, Trinity Center, Callahan’s (Ranch), Scottsburg (Fort Jones), and Yreka.  Oregon towns included Jacksonville, Canyonville and Roseburg.

The California Stage Company lost the mail contract in 1865 and folded.  The Oregon Stage Company took over the route, changing its name to the California & Oregon Stage Company.  It became the largest operation in the region until the arrival of the railroad in 1887.

Although the railroad meant the end of the stage mail route, smaller stage companies continued to carry passengers into outlying areas.

Source: Colby, W. H. "Stage Operations, Express Companies, and Mail." A Century of Transportation In Shasta County 1821-1920. No. 7 ed. Association for Northern California Records and Research, 35-40. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.