Utah Territory Mail Routes

Utah Territory Mail Routes/tiles/non-collection/p/pm_003imgtile1.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration


The Compromise of 1850 was a series of laws passed to preserve the balance of free and slave states to prevent conflict between the North and South. Part of the compromise established the Utah Territory from the land ceded by Mexico in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The intervening years saw rapid westward expansion of the country’s population, a civil war, and industrialization. An integral part of territorial development was the establishment of overland routes to deliver mail. Some routes were not profitable, but nonetheless, mail delivery facilitated the settlement and growth of these far flung and rugged parts of the country.

States and territories petitioned Congress to fund postal routes, which they believed were necessary not only for communication but prosperity. Two memorials from January 1861 request particular mail routes in the Utah Territory because “an earnest desire for the full development of all the resources of the great west” and “increase in business in this Territory and the rising settlements along the route, the wants of a reading public in a fast age, all combine in calling loudly for the increase of mail facilities.” This circa 1863–1865 map shows existing and proposed southern mail routes in the Utah Territory. It was included with a report drafted by Cornelius Cole, a member of the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads, detailing the “numerous and forcible” reasons for such a route.

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