Two Weeks on The Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach Trail [Anza-Borrego, California to Guadalupe Mountains, Texas]

#1
"The route is prolific in interest to the naturalist, the mineralogist, and all who love to contemplate nature in her wildest varieties, and throughout the whole 2,700 miles the interest is not allowed to flag. I have found the deserts teeming with curious plants and animal life, the mountain passes prolific in the grandest scenery, and the fruitful valleys suggestive on an earthly paradise;" - Waterman L. Ormsby, "The Butterfield Overland Mail" printed in the New York Herald, Thursday, 11 November 1858.
The Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach Route was the first interstate system in the United States of America, and pivotal in our development as a coast-to-coast thriving economic powerhouse... it was the predecessor to the Pony Express, railways, and the interstate systems we all use today.

It carried passengers and U.S. Mail from two eastern termini, Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California. The routes from each eastern terminus met at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then continued through Indian Territory, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Bajrar California, and California ending in San Francisco.[2] On March 3, 1857, Congress under James Buchanan authorized the U.S. postmaster general, Aaron Brown, to contract for delivery of the U.S. mail from Saint Louis to San Francisco. Prior to this, U.S. Mail bound for the Far West had been transported by ship across the Gulf of Mexico to Panama, where it was freighted across the isthmus to the Pacific, then taken by ship for points in California.

On March 30, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Congressional legislation (Sec. 7209 of P.L. 111-11) to conduct a study of designating the trail a National Historic Trail. The United States National Park Service is conducting meetings in affected communities and doing Special Resource Study/Environmental Assessment to determine whether it should become a trail and what the route should be.
^^^Hopefully this may bring awareness to this awesome piece of American history, and inspire others to get out and explore it!

In April and May of 2018, I solo-traversed a large section of the trail (Divisions 2-4) from Southern California to Texas. It was an incredible journey full of challenges, unexpected turns, and extremely refreshing solitude.

This is my account of the adventure... enjoy!

I will be trying to finish a new video each week (targeting Thursday afternoons to wrap up/publish), as I edit and process through the hours of film I shot along the way... please let me know what you think or if you have any questions about the Butterfield Trail//if you've done any segments yourself... While this is just a hobby for me, I enjoy sharing it with y'all, and hope to get others excited about an area so rich in our history!

Day 1 & 2 (Anza-Borrego: Font's Point, Culp Valley, & Vallecito Springs):

Day 2, cont. (Goat Canyon Trestle, Canyon Sin Nombre, & Vallecito Wash):
 
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#2
Pictures from Day 1:

For the year leading up to this trip, I planned, mapped out, and read several books/articles/sources on the origins and history of the trail:


Prior to departing, I did a complete lineout of all of my gear, verifying my inventory and getting that good peace of mind:


Sunset the night before departing... a beautiful way to leave my home for the past four years in Joshua Tree, CA:


Arriving at Anza-Borrego/Ocotillo Wells:


Moonrise from atop Font's Point in Anza-Borrego:


The night sky, and my campsite illuminated by the 97% illumination that evening.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
#3
Very cool and looking forward to the rest of the story...
That pic of everything before the trip...wow, I never want to know just what all I have packed in my rig, it would scare me :)
Keep the great pics coming
 
#4
Oooooh. Can't wait for more of this. It's so neat to know that there are passageways from antiquity still out there - some forgotten and some disappeared. I would love to explore them all.
 
#5
Oooooh. Can't wait for more of this. It's so neat to know that there are passageways from antiquity still out there - some forgotten and some disappeared. I would love to explore them all.
Thanks, it was a challenge to get to some areas of the old route, especially in Arizona. I'm glad you're interested. I will be trying to share one video every week this summer (probably on Thursday afternoons) as I work my way through processing and editing the hours of film I shot. I would love to see what you decide on discovering!

Very cool and looking forward to the rest of the story...
That pic of everything before the trip...wow, I never want to know just what all I have packed in my rig, it would scare me :)
Keep the great pics coming
Looking forward to sharing it with you, thanks!!
As for the lineout, I'd always wanted to put everything out for a detailed inventory/sanity check, and figured this was finally the time to do it... it was daunting, but I was very glad I did when I started needing to access less-used items along the way.
 
#6
Day 2:

One of my favorite things was this complete pool table, literally in the middle of nowhere (no towns, residence, etc visible for miles):


Riding to the series of trestles, there are a good dozen smaller bridges you cross over thousand-foot drops, prior to arriving at the big one:


Along an abandon railcar at the North side of bridge:


The Trestle Bridge, as viewed from the middle of the canyon (I am standing on the bridge itself):


From above the North side of the Trestle Bridge:


Returning back to the Landy, the main bridge is in the background:


Canyon Sin Nombre "The Canyon Without a Name" I just think it's pretty cool that this canyon was so big and bad, they didn't even bother to name it... but then that took on a whole new name of it's own:


In Canyon Sin Nombre, racing the sunset:
 

mass

Observer
#8
This. This night shot. I'd love to learn how to be able to do that.
:)

It takes a little practice, but figuring out the Shutter Speed, F-Stop, and ISO are the biggest factors, it also depends on what light is available either naturally or that you can paint with. This was one of the best shots I've taken without painting anything artificially, this was 100% natural lighting, pretty happy with how it turned out, but there is always room for improvement. I may make a quick tutorial, as many people are curious about night shooting techniques (there is a plethora on YouTube already, too!)
 
#9
How is the LR3 on gas? What about maintenance costs and the like? I'm interested in one, but have the classic thought that land rover = $$$$.
 
#11
Great videos but sorry to say the music overpowers the narration and no watchable for me. Looks like a great area to visit.

Dan.
Thank you for the feedback!!
Yeah, I agree, the audio mixing on the first one is a little off, depending on what kind of speakers/headphones you're using...
I tried to mix the audio differently on the second one, to give more priority to the narration. It's a learning process. I appreciate the input, glad to know it wasn't just me... gotta get better!

How is the LR3 on gas? What about maintenance costs and the like? I'm interested in one, but have the classic thought that land rover = $$$$.
It's a thirsty machine, I average about ~14mpg in daily driving. On this trip specifically (lots of idling/crawling/atypical driving) my trip computer readout somewhere around 10.5mpg. I carry an extra 10gal on the back, so I'm confident in a 400+ range, as needed... I also had it loaded down with 1700lbs of gear (I was moving cross country, so had a few non-essentials) and then the full armor/steel wheels/etc.... if you have a bone stock vehicle, you could surely get in the 15+ range..... we don't drive these things for the mileage, that's for sure.

As for maintenance, I've been absolutely impressed by how great this thing is. I did a lot of reading, and originally wanted a Discovery II, but found all of the famous electrical gremlins LR's have a reputation for seem to end around that Disco2/LR3 model transition timeframe... across the board, people were driving these newer variants into the ground, with standard preventative maintenance, and the only real issue being EAS Compressor issues or small leaks in the air suspension shocks/struts themselves... quick and easy fixes. I spent way more money on maintaining my old VW GTI, surprisingly.

For a 13-year old truck with 140,000 miles on it, this thing still blows me away every time I drive it. Coming from a 2014 JKU to this 2005 LR3 has been a transition into the world of creature comforts and luxury, and it STILL outperforms the hell out of my JKU (I had the Willy's... the Rubicon would hold its own).

I can't recommend these things highly enough, and with the growing number of soccer moms who are deciding they want the newest models/something else.... the market is being flooded with them (or so it seems). I'd recommend a 2006+, solely because the 2005 models have the hardware for the Bluetooth, but did not come equipped with it in the cabin... minor inconvenience the dealer can install for you at the cost of a few hundo..

Also, verify you're getting the HD package (easiest way to check is to enter the 4x4 screen on the dash display, turn it on 4lo/rock crawl mode, and you will see the rear locker on the car diagram.... that and it'll have a full-size spare).

Cheers, let me know if you have any other questions!!
 
#12
Good info Matt. Thanks for the review. I'll be taking a deeper look at the LR3's since I've seen a few of them, in decent nick, for a price I can deal with. I would certainly use it for double duty, and while gas mileage isn't my main concern (or we would all just by a prius) it would be nice to get 15mpg. A bump up from the mileage of my 318ci v8.
 
#13
That trestle looks amazing.... bike/hike access only? Have any more details, I'd love to go check it out one day. Cheers, and looking forward to the rest.
 
#14
That trestle looks amazing.... bike/hike access only? Have any more details, I'd love to go check it out one day. Cheers, and looking forward to the rest.
It was unreal to explore. It is only accessible via riding/hiking. I came in from the North side, using google maps and some off-road Benchmark maps to determine where to drop in at. I linked up at the end of 'Dos Cabezas Road', parked my truck and rode in another 5-6 miles... it's all singletrack trail that handrails the train tracks... sometimes you are literally riding inches from a several hundred foot dropoff... so please, please exercise caution, as the winds are extremely high. If you hike it, you can walk along the tracks themselves.
Along the way, you'll pass through about 6-8 different tunnels and another ~10-15 smaller trestle bridges (I forget the exact count). It is so cool, especial if you geek out and railfan/appreciate engineering marvels, as I do.


If you were coming from the South Side, the DeAnza Springs Resort offers 'secure parking' for a more sight-filled hike, including even more abandon trains along the way... for my trip, this was way too far South, but if you're coming from San Diego or Mexico, I'd highly recommend this route, as it looks kind of cool (although it seems this is all uphill, and you're not traveling immediately along side the tracks for the entirety).

Wrapping up the next installment now, I appreciate the kind words..
 

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