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Waterman Ormsby's Letter

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Sept. 20, 1858

To the New York Herald:

The Pacific Railroad train, carrying the first overland mail, arrived at Tipton. . . . We found the first coach ready, the six horses all harnessed and hitched and Mr. John Butterfield, Jr. impatient to be off. . . . The time occupied in shifting the baggage and passengers was just nine minutes, at which time the cry of "all aboard" and the merry crack of young John Butterfield's whip, denoted that we were off. . . . We rode along a somewhat rapid pace, because John Jr. was determined that the overland mail should go through his section on time; and though his father kept calling out, "Be careful, John," he assured him that it was "allright" and drove on.

Our horses were four in number, that being the allotment all along the line from Tipton to San Francisco. They were harnessed at this point and to change teams was the work of but a few minutes, and we were off again. This time we got a driver who was slow . . . [and] did not know the road well, and we had to feel our way along. As the night was dark, the roads difficult, and the coach lamps seemed to be of little use in the dim moonlight . . . I began to feel some fear of wet feet and mail bags when the water reached the hub, but we got over safely and pretty dry, as the water was not deeper than half of the wheel. . . . I must confess it was a matter of utmost astonishment to me how the driver ever found his way in the wilderness.

Waterman Ormsby, passenger