Western Cover Society  
Exhibits | Western Expresses
K - P
Google Translate - Click Here and go to Select Language to translate this page!
  • Text Size:
  • A
  • A
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Revised: Friday, July 31, 2015


Western Expresses Keene & Hurley's Express - 1888
Keene & Hurley served Ruby City in northwestern Washington state by carrying mail to and from Spokane Falls. Very little else is reported of this express, which Nathan lists as beginning "about 1885".
Keene & Hurley PAID Over All Stage and Express Line from Ruby City, W. T.

By Keene & Hurley PAID Over All Stage and Express Line from Ruby City, W. T. to Spokane Falls; by post office Spokane Falls, Wash. Jan 14, 10 PM, 1888 to Portland, Oregon. Fewer than five known examples from this express.


The following is an excerpt from the annual report of the governor of Washington Territory for the year 1887:

The Okanagan, or Salmon River District, is reached by stage from Spokane Falls, via Davenport, Grant Center and Condon's Ferry, over the Columbia [River]...The distance from Spokane Falls to Condon's Ferry is 120 miles; from the ferry to Ruby City or Salmon City is 40 miles. The stage trip from Spokane Falls to Salmon City occupies three days, the stage running in daylight only.



Western Expresses Kennedy & Co.'s Express - 1862 to 1864
M. G. Kennedy and F. W. Utter founded Kennedy & Co.'s Express in 1862 to operate daily from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. In 1864, Kennedy added Long as a partner and changed the name of the firm Kennedy & Long's, which continued to operate until 1866.
Kennedy & Co.'s Half Moon Bay & Pescadero Express

By Kennedy & Co.'s Half Moon Bay & Pescadero Express from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero; by Wells Fargo & Co. (illegible date and location, but presumably either Half Moon Bay or Pescadero) to Santa Cruz. One of only three reported examples of this printed frank.
Kennedy, Long & Co.'s Express and Transfer Company

By Kennedy, Long & Co.'s Express and Transfer Company to San Francisco. The manuscript K at lower left is possibly that of M.G. Kennedy.



Western Expresses Kenson's Owens River Express - 1863 to 1864
Edward Kenson operated a pony express service on the eastern side of the Sierras from Camp Independence, California. His summer route was north to Aurora, Nevada; in the winter south over Walker Pass to Keysville. Kenson connected with Wells Fargo at Aurora, or would deposit the express in the US Mails.
Kenson's Owens River Express San Carlos Inyo Dist.

By Kenson's Owens River Express San Carlos Inyo Dist. from San Carlos to Esmeralda, N.T.; by post office Esmeralda, N.T. Oct 31 1863 to San Francisco. San Carlos post office opened Jun 1, 1864.

Daily Alta California ad

San Francisco Daily Alta California advertisement from Feb 9, 1864 noting Kenson's Owens River Express route change from Keysville to San Carlos via Aurora.



Western Expresses Lamping & Co's. Express - Nov, 1865 to Aug, 1866
P. A. Lamping operated an express between Marysville and Downieville, from which he supported the local mines. He initially connected with Wells Fargo at Marysville and later with Langton. After Samuel Langton's death, he purchased that express from the Langton family; however, Wells Fargo refused to honor the old Lamping franks and he eventually sold out to them.
Lamping & Co.'s Express Sierra Valley

By Lamping & Co.'s Express Sierra Valley to "Mr. Hyman, Watchmaker, Downieville". This is the only known example of a Lamping's marking from Sierra Valley.

Early sketch of Downieville.
Early sketch of Downieville.



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Express Downieville

By Langton's Express Downieville to Marysville; by post office Marysville, Cal Jan 28 (1852) to Corsica, France. Overpaid 26. rate with two 12. and one 3. 1851 issue adhesives. The only known example of a western express cover with the 12. 1851 issue adhesive (per Jim Allen).


Back of Langton's Express Downieville



Western Expresses Langton & Brother's Express - Nov, 1853 to Feb, 1855
Samuel W. Langton operated as an express man, either alone or in various partnerships from 1850 until 1864. He formed Langton & Brother's Express with his brother in November 1853. They operated from Marysville up the Yuba River to Nevada City and Downieville. The brothers sold out to Adams Express on Feb 21, 1855, just two days before Adams collapsed.
Forwarded by Langton & Bro's Express Nevada

Rocky Hill, Ky 20th July (1854) by government mails to Nevada City two 3 1851 issue adhesives prepaying the 6 rate in effect for distances >3000 miles; Forwarded by Langton & Bro's Express Nevada (City) to "New Orleans Flat, Alta Cal."

Forwarded By Langton & Bro's Express Nevada

Map showing the route from Nevada City post office to New Orleans flat

Map showing the route from Nevada City post office to New Orleans flat



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
LLangtons Pioneer Express Camptonville

By Langtons Pioneer Express Camptonville to Long Bar, with enclosed letter datelined Camptonville, Jan 14, 1855 transcribed, in part, below.

Camptonville Jan 14 1858 Dateline

...I rec'd your letter last evening which by neglect of our Mountain Express has lain in the office I perceive several days...


An early view of Camptonville's main street

An early view of Camptonville's main street



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Samuel W. Langton had various partners throughout his tenure in the express business. Responding to opportunity and competition, he also added and eliminated routes numerous times. Langton sold out to Adams & Company in Feb, 1855, only to have that company fail two days later. He took back the company and formed "Langton's Pioneer Express", extending his express line to Sacramento and San Francisco. He gave up the run from Marysville to Sacramento and San Francisco in 1857, instead connecting with Wells Fargo & Co at Marysville.
Langton's Pioneer Express Downieville

By Langton's Pioneer Express Downieville to Marysville; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co Marysville May 25 to Sacramento.

Downieville, Sierra County, Cal.



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Pioneer Express San Juan

By Langton's Pioneer Express in their printed franked envelope from Langton's Pioneer Express San Juan (North San Juan) to Nevada; by Wells, Fargo & Co. Nevada May 5 to San Francisco.

North San Juan to Nevada City



Western Expresses Langton's Express - Feb, 1850 to 1864
Langton's Pioneer Express

By Langton's Pioneer Express in their franked envelope from Timbuctoo with manuscript Feb 21 to Yuba City.

Timbuctoo in the early 1860's (California State Library)

Timbuctoo in the early 1860's (California State Library)



Western Expresses Latta's Mountain Express - 1866 to 1867
Robert Wallace Latta ran an express operation from Nevada City to Washington, Alpha, and Omega. He connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City.
Latta's Mountain Express PAID

By Latta's Mountain Express PAID in their franked envelope from Washington Cal. Feb 4 to Nevada City; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 4 (1867) to San Francisco. Note - Williams does not show the Washington marking used as a postmark; thus, it is believed to be a Latta's agent marking, as the only examples reported are on Latta's covers.

Washington, Cal. to Nevada City Map



Western Expresses Leavenworth City & Pikes Peak Express - Feb, 1859 to Jul, 1859
The Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company was formed in Feb, 1859 by William Russell and John Jones. It operated between Denver City and Leavenworth City, Kansas Territory with the inaugural trip arriving in Denver on May 7, 1859 over the Platte Valley route. Amos Streck arrived at Denver City Jul 19, 1859 with the "Jones & Russells Pike's Peak Express Company" handstamp that saw use thereafter.
Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company

By United States Post Office from Farmington Me. June 27 (1859) to Leavenworth City, where the sender's manuscript routing instructions were honored: Leav'n City & Pikes Peak Express Co. Jul 2 handstamp for delivery to Denver City "Kansas Ty"

Pike's Peak -- The Leavenworth City & Pike's Peak Express Company's Office, Denver City, E. T.



Western Expresses Leland's Express - Jul, 1854
George Leland and John McCombe ran an express service from 1853 to Jun 28, 1854 using ships to connect San Francisco to Humboldt Bay and Crescent City. An overland route connecting Santa Clara and San Jose was established from San Francisco. The partnership dissolved on Jun 28, 1854 after which Leland took on a new partner, David McComb, in Aug, 1854. This express operated over the same routes as the former partnership, adding ship service to Southern California. In Oct, 1855 Leland and McComb's Express dissolved.
Leland's Express San Jose

By Leland's Express San Jose with their fancy eight-pointed star handstamp to San Francisco with Collect in diamond. This marking was possibly produced during the short period Leland was on his own, in July 1854 when he was in between partners McCombe and McComb.

San Jose in 1858

San Jose in 1858



Western Expresses Leland & McCombe's Express - 1853 to Jun, 1854
Leland & McCombe's Express San Francisco

By Leland & McCombe's Express San Francisco to College Ranch, Trinidad north of San Francisco along the coast. One of only three known examples of this marking, two of which are in black ink.

Daily Alta California Earliest Leland & McCombe's Ads Daily Alta California Latest Leland & McCombe's Ads
The earliest and latest Leland & McCombe's ads from the Daily Alta California, dated Apr 11, 1854 (left) and Jun 23, 1854 (right); both mention their route from San Francisco to Trinidad.



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
George Leland and David McComb formed a new partnership in August 1854 connecting San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Pedro, Los Angeles and San Diego by steamers and was termed "Leland & McComb's Southern Express" to differentiate it from their Crescent City Express between San Francisco, Humboldt Bay and Crescent City. The firm was out of business in October 1855.
Leland & McComb's Southern Express Route Map

Leland & McComb's Southern Express route

Leland & McComb's Southern Express

To San Francisco by Leland & McComb's Southern Express with PAID; double-rate letter by post office from San Francisco Cal. Dec 1 (1854) to Walden, NY:
  • Red Paid 6 San Francisco post office marking partially beneath adhesive prepaying in cash the first ½ oz. rate for distances >3000 miles
  • The 3¢ 1851 issue adhesive represents partial payment of the rate for the second ½ oz.
  • Marked Due 5 at San Francisco for remaining unpaid postage for the second ½ oz. (rates for distances >3000 miles were 6¢ paid and 10¢ unpaid per ½ oz.; basically, the second ½ oz. was half paid with the 3¢ 1851 adhesive, and 5¢ unpaid)



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
Leland & McCombs Southern Express Collect San Francisco Cal. Nov 27 (1854)

By Leland & McCombs Southern Express with their diamond Collect handstamp to San Francisco; postmarked San Francisco Cal. Nov 27 (1854) for delivery to the post office box.


Nov 11, 1854 Daily Alta California Ad

The earliest ad for "Leland & McComb's Southern Coast Express" from the Nov 11, 1854 Daily Alta California



Western Expresses Leland & McComb's Southern Express -
Aug, 1854 to Oct, 1855
Leland & McComb's Express San Francisco

By Leland & McComb's Express San Francisco to Columbia, California. The notation Adv Chgs 25 must also denote the unpaid express fee, as 25 would have been far too high for advertising the letter vs the normal 1-2 fee.
Leland & McComb's Express San Jose

By Leland & McComb's Express San Jose with PAID to San Francisco on folded business letter datelined San Jose Nov 2d 1854.

Dateline San Jose Nov 2d 1854



Western Expresses Lewis's Cherokee Flat Express - (1864) to (1877)
Lewis's Cherokee Flat Express was a small, possibly one-man, operation that ran between Oroville and the claims in and around the Cherokee diggings, a distance of only about 14 miles. The express connected with Well Fargo at Oroville.
Lewis's Cherokee Flat Exp. Paid

By Lewis's Cherokee Flat Exp. Paid from the Cherokee diggings to Oroville.

Cherokee diggings to Oroville Map



Western Expresses Martins's Express - 1884 to 1886
According to Nathan, this express operated from 1884 to 1886 over the Mullen Road from Spokane, Washington Territory to Wardner, Idaho Territory via Coeur d'Alene and Kellogg.
Martin's Spokane Falls and Wardner Stage and Express Line

By Martin's Spokane Falls and Wardner Stage and Express Line from Wardner, Idaho to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory; by post office from Spokane Falls Wash. Aug 3, 1885 to Portland, Oregon. One of only about four known examples from this express.

Merchant Handstamp

Merchant's handstamp on verso confirms this cover was carried by Martin's Express from Wardner, Idaho to Spokane Falls.



Western Expresses Mead & Clarke's Express - 1864 to 1866
Mead & Clarke's express ran in the area north of Fresno, California, between Visalia and Havilah. They connected with Wells Fargo.
Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia

Paid Mead & Clarke Over Our Clear Creek Route to San Francisco; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. San Francisco Jun 12 for delivery. As this franked envelope is only half of a paste up, the final destination is not known. One of only two known examples of this printed frank and of only four total from Mead & Clarke.


Sacramento Daily Union of Jul 23, 1866

Sacramento Daily Union of Jul 23, 1866 mentioning "Mead & Clark's Clear Creek line"


San Francisco's Daily Alta California article of Jan 18, 1867

San Francisco's Daily Alta California article of Jan 18, 1867 noting the winter schedule of "Meade & Clark's Clear Creek line of stages". By this time, they were likely out of the express business.



Western Expresses Mead & Davis Letter Express - 1864
Mead & Davis operated their express from Visalia to Havilah, connecting with Wells Fargo at the former. The "Mead" of this express is thought to be the same person as in the Mead & Clarke partnership.
Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia

By Mead & Davis Letter Express to Visalia; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Visalia to San Francisco. One of only four known examples from this short-lived express.

Modern map showing relative locations of Havilah, Visalia and San Francisco
Modern map showing relative locations of Havilah, Visalia and San Francisco



Western Expresses Miller & Co.'s Express - 1854 to 1855
Miller & Company's Express consisted of Solomon N. Miller and C .W. H. Solinsky, who operated from Chinese Camp to the mines and bars along the Tuolumne River. The express may also have connected through to Jackson in Amador County. Miller is thought to have operated from 1854 into 1855, based on the "Chinese Camp" notation in the handstamp. Chinese Camp was one of the earliest established gold rush camps. In 1849, Chinese laborers were forced out of Camp Salvado. They established a new camp about a mile west which became known as Chinese Diggings. This name was in general use for the location until the post office was established on April 18, 1854. At that time, the name of the location was changed to Chinese Camp.
Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp

By Wells, Fargo & Cos Express S. Frco Dec 18 from San Francisco to Chinese Camp; exchanged with Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp for delivery to I. [Roman Numeral for the first] Garrote in Tuolumne County. One of only two known examples from this express.


San Francisco to Chinese Camp Map



Western Expresses Miners' Loon Creek Express - May 26, 1870 to Jul 20, 1870
This short-lived express was founded by J.H. Hunter and four others on May 26, 1870 to operate from Idaho City, Idaho Territory to the Loon Creek mining camps. The express was sold on July 20, 1870 to Charles J. Tassel.
Miller & Co. Express Chinese Camp

By Miners' Loon Creek Express PAID to Idaho City, Idaho Territory; by post office Idaho City, Ida. Sep 24 (1870) to Vernon, Oregon. Docketed at left as being answered Nov 27, 1870. Used during the period of Charles J. Tassel's ownership (post Jul 20, 1870). One of only two known examples of this company's frank of any type.


The Idaho World of May 26, 1870 provides some insight on the difficulties of the expressman of the day:

Loon Creek Items - From Mr. J. H. Hunter, of the Miners Loon Creek Express, who arrived on last Monday night from Ore Grande, we learned that about ten days ago the body of M.A. Wentworth, the Expressman who was lost in the snow slide while enroute for Loon Creek during the winter was found by his partner, Mr. Adams, and another man named Holmes. The snow was still about four feet deep over the remains, which was discovered by reason of a hole having been dug down to the body by a cougar or panther which had eaten the flesh off the neck and breast; otherwise, the body was in a good state of preservation. Wentworth was lying on his back with his express pack under him. The body was buried on the side of the hill near where it was found, and the parties were engaged in looking for the body of Smith who perished at the same time.



Western Expresses Moore's Flat and Eureka Express
Moore's Flat and Eureka Express operated under numerous ownership structures: Wells & Company (1864), English and Wells (1864-1869), L.H. Wells (1870) and Wells & Herrings (1871-??)). Wells also operated the North San Juan and Humbug Express under both the Wells and L.H. Wells names. The Moore's Flat and Eureka Express operated over a route between Nevada City, Moore's Flat, and Eureka South (and may have extended to Emigrant Gap). It connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City.
Wells & Co's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By Wells & Co's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City, Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Aug 8 to Vallejo, in the San Francisco Bay area.
English & Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By English & Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Nov 17 to San Francisco. It is believed that the Graniteville postmaster acted as agent for L.H. Wells' express, as several Wells covers are known with this marking.



Western Expresses Moore's Flat and Eureka Express
L.H. Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By L.H. Wells' Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 11 to Sacramento. The Graniteville, Cal Feb 10 postmark is thought to be an L. H. Wells' agent's marking, as several covers are known with this marking that did not enter the postal system.
Wells & Herring's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express

By Wells & Herring's Moore's Flat and Eureka Express to Nevada City; Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Aug 1 to San Francisco; Wells Fargo & Co. San Francisco Aug 2 for delivery. One of only four known Type 1 printed franks (seven total).



Western Expresses Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Express - 1853 to 1861
George W. Morley and Silas Caulkins partnered to serve the mining camps of La Porte and the Gibsonville Ridge area. They may have also operated between La Porte and Marysville. The partnership dissolved when Morley formed an express operation with Homer B. Holland (Holland, Morley & Company).
Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Daily Express

By Morley, Caulkins & Co.'s Daily Express to Strawberry Valley and into the postal system; Strawberry Valley, Cala. July 16 to Memphis, Missouri.


General View of Strawberry Valley, Yuba Co.



Western Expresses Mumby & Co.'s Express - Apr 30, 1851 to Jun 12, 1851
Joseph M. Mumby formed Mumby & Co's Express in partnership with Henry P. Reed and their first advertisement appeared on Apr 30, 1851. Prior to that date Mumby had been a messenger for Palmer & Co's Express. The route was between Sacramento City and San Francisco by steamboats of the Union Line (steamers Confidence and William G. Hunt) and utilized Dodge & Co Express in San Francisco for connection to the East. The line also operated north to Marysville serving the Nevada City mines. Mumby & Co's Express sale to Freeman & Co's Express was announced on June 12, 1851.
Mumby & Co's Express

By Mumby & Co's Express with their PAID on folded letter datelined Sacramento 12 May 1851 to San Francisco; notation with Bottle, explained within letter...With this you will receive a sample of Primo Martell Brandy. There is but a small lot only 130 gal but it is A No. 1 - The same style they used previous to fire at Union Hotel Brown & Bartels. I saw Brown here & he says that he now pays $6.50 for this article. Sell it if you can at 6.00 & the party here will allow you 4/- per gallon on it...W. H. Hall

May 14, 1851 Sacramento Transcript advertisement for Mumby & Co's Express May 14, 1851 Sacramento Transcript advertisement for Mumby & Co's Express



Western Expresses Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express - 1866 to 1867
The town of Meadow Lake was established between 1866 and the summer of 1867 above Donner Summit at an elevation of over 7000 feet. Little is known of this express, other than it connected with Wells Fargo at Nevada City. The small amount of gold and the heavy winter snows apparently ended this express after only one year of operation.
Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express PAID

By Nevada City and Meadow Lake Express PAID to Nevada; by Wells Fargo & Co. Nevada Jul x to an unknown destination, as this cover was part of a paste-up. One of only three known examples from this short-lived express company, two of which are paste-ups.


Meadow Lake, ca1868

Meadow Lake, ca1868



Western Expresses Nevada, Washington and Omega Express - 1871
Thought to have operated among the towns of the express' name, with Nevada City and Omega on Deer Creek, and Washington just northwest of Omega on the South Fork of the Yuba River. They connected with Wells, Fargo & Company in Nevada City.
Nevada, Washington and Omega Express

By Nevada, Washington and Omega Express to Nevada City; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Nevada Feb 18 to San Jose.


Nevada, Washington and Omega Map



Western Expresses Newell & Co.'s Express - Oct 22, 1851 to Jul, 1853
L. W. Newell and E. W. Colt two of the partners of Todd & Company, purchased that company's express operation and changed the name to Newell & Co in Oct 22, 1851. They connected with Adams & Co in San Francisco, while advertising a connection with Freeman & Co for the Northern mines. L. W. Newell managed the base out of San Francisco, with one route that ran to E. W. Colt at Stockton, who served Sonora and the southern mines. Ocean steamers were used to serve the Oregon Territory, with their agent Nathaniel Brown. Newell & Co. sold to Adams in Jul, 1853, having worked closely with them since Newell & Co.'s formation.
Newell & Co's Express San Francisco

By Newell & Co's Express San Francisco to Portland, Oregon with enclosed letter datelined San Francisco November 5th, 1851 transcribed on following page. Original Newell & Co.'s Express ad from Oct 27, 1851 below.


Newell & Co.'s Express ad from Oct 27, 1851



Western Expresses Newell & Co.'s Express - Oct 22, 1851 to Jul, 1853
Dateline San Francisco November 5th, 1851


San Francisco November 5th, 1851

Mess Norris & Co.
Dear Sirs,

Our last respects were pr Steamer of 20th Oct, since which time we are without any of your esteemed favors - not having received a letter from either yourselves or Clinton by the last arrival of the Columbia - altho, we fully expected a remittance by her - and an account of Amazon's cargo. - We have no doubt that your letter was written and despatched - but some miscarriage has kept it from us. - We have no alteration to make in the wishes expressed to you in our previous letters nor anything stirring to advise you of with us. - We trust that long ere this the Amazon has been despatched with the flour you spoke of -

The "Geo Thacher" is close at hand - your box on board shall be despatched to you as soon as it is received.

We send you papers for business and general information. -

Send down all the funds that you can mind, as by the next Steamer we shall [?] ourselves by remitting to W. L. Co. - on account of the unfortunate affair of Ludlows. - We are very busy - Very truly yours -

Winter & Latimer



Western Expresses Nichols & Co.'s Express - Oct, 1857 to Jul, 1858
This express, which first advertised in October 1857, operated from San Francisco by steamer via Crescent City to Oregon and the Frazer River mines and to Bellingham Bay, Washington. They connected with Freeman & Co's Express and Alta Express. In July 1858, they sold out to American Express (the California company) who adopted the same printed frank.
Nichols & Co.'s Express Northern Coast

Nichols & Co.'s Express PAID printed frank with Nichols & Co.'s Express Northern Coast handstamp into San Francisco from the northern mines. The Nichols San Francisco handstamp is 26x35mm; whereas the Northern Coast example is 24x34mm, like this one.
Nichols & Co.'s Express San Francisco

By Nichols & Co.'s Express. PAID. handstamp frank with Nichols & Co.'s Express San Francisco for local delivery. The only known example of this black frank.


Sacramento Daily Union Article

Nichols & Co.'s Express carried the news from Oregon (and parts inland) to San Francisco, as evidenced by this Sacramento Daily Union article of Dec 5, 1857.



Western Expresses Noisy Carriers River Route - 1850 to 1857
The most prominent of the newspaper and letter bag men was Charles P. Kimball, who arrived in San Francisco in July 1849. Within a few months he organized the Kimball & Co. Express to carry mail to Sacramento by boat. It was unsuccessful and no covers are recorded. On Feb 1, 1850 he organized a city delivery local, with again no known examples. Next he picked up newspapers from the arriving boats and hawked them through the streets in rhyming verse, which is where he got the name "Noisy Canier." In September 1850, he published a city business directory. He had a store at Sansome and Pacific, but it was not until he opened a stationery store with books, newspapers, lettersheets and a publishing house at 77 Long Wharf that he hit his stride.
NC~RR POST ('Noisy Carriers River Route Post')

Oroville, Cal Sep 2, 1858 to Greenwood, Cal.; address crossed through and very light "Sa... ... ... ..." written above Greenwood (attempted erasure); thus forwarded by Noisy Carriers with their NC~RR POST ("Noisy Carriers River Route Post") hand stamp from Sacramento to San Francisco. Two other examples of this marking are recorded, both postmarked San Francisco (Jan 17 and Nov 20) to Sacramento, with 1857 docketing.
Ernest A. Wiltsee wrote an article in Stamps (Jan 30, 1937) about the "Noisy Carrier--River Route Post." marking: Evidence shows that the "Noisy Carrier's" great competitor J. W. Sullivan, ran a steamboat express from San Francisco to Sacramento carrying letter bags of mail, and if Sullivan were allowed to carry express and mail on a chartered steamer, the "Noisy Carrier" would be allowed the same privilege by the Post Office (Kimball had formerly run an express to Sacramento). His letter bags were doubtless maintained there as well as in San Francisco. The following item from the Alta California (Apr 13, 1857) was important enough to appear in the editorial column:

Enterprise-Ullman of the Newspaper and Periodical Depot, corner of Sansome and Washington Streets and Kimball of the Noisy Carrier's Book & Stationery Co., dispatched the steamer Martin White at fifteen minutes before six yesterday evening with full supplies of news and literature received by the Golden Age for their interior agents. They effected a charter of the White some four or five days ago in anticipation of the Age arriving on Sunday, being resolved to avoid the delay which would then be necessary, if depending on the regular line and waiting for the Monday boats. The Golden Age reached her wharf about 3-1/2 o'clock, but it was nearly four before the mails were landed and opened so that the entire work of assorting and making up their numerous packages were accomplished by Messrs. Ullman and Kimball in less than two hours. Wells Fargo & Co. availed themselves of this enterprise to forward their express letters. This is another instance of the go-a-headitive spirit possessed by San Francisco newsmen.



Western Expresses Norman & Grant's Express - 1868
G. H. Norman (Nohrman) may have operated alone for a short period of time after he sold his interest in Pauly & Nohrman's Express. At some point in 1868, he formed a partnership with Grant. Their express served the mines of the Gibsonville Ridge from a base at Gibsonville.
Norman & Grant's Express

By Norman & Grant's Express to Gibsonville; entered US mails with Gibsonville, Cal. Oct 9 (1868) postmark to Union, Maine.


Gibsonville in 1855 from Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine

Gibsonville in 1855 from Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine



Western Expresses Organ & Tibbett's Express - 1865 to 1868
Organ & Tibbett's express ran from Meadow Lake to the Excelsior District of California from 1865 to 1868, per Nathan's book.
Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat, California.

By Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat, California. One of only about four examples from this express, and one of two of this type.
Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID.

By Organ & Tibbits Excelsior Express. PAID. to Dutch Flat; exchanged with Wells Fargo & Co. Nov 4 Dutch Flat to Nevada City. Docketing at left Nov 4, 1868. One of only four examples from this express, and one of only two of this type.


Daily Alta California newspaper ad (Jul 26, 1866)

Daily Alta California newspaper ad (Jul 26, 1866) for Grant's Fine Saddle Train from Dutch Flat to the Excelsior Mining District. While this ad is not for Organ & Tibbett's Express, it did run over the same route and during the same timeframe.



Western Expresses Oroville & Quincy Express - 1874 to Unknown
Operated between Oroville and Quincy, as the name would imply, and from Quincy served the upper area of Plumas County. They connected with Wells Fargo at several locations in the county.
Oroville & Quincy Express Co.

By Oroville & Quincy Express Co. from Greenville to nearby Quincy (10 miles south); exchanged with Wells Fargo and forwarded on to San Francisco. Merchant's handstamp from Greenville on verso, shown below.


Merchant's handstamp - J. D. McIntyre & Co Greenville Pluma Co. Cal



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Russell G. Noyes and other employees of Adams & Company formed the Pacific Express Company, following Adams' failure in Feb, 1855, with most of Adams' offices quickly becoming Pacific Express offices. They continued to try to compete with Wells Fargo, even though they lacked the funds and leadership of their rival. As a result, they failed after about two years, despite the established field locations. Several members of the failed Pacific Express quickly re-formed into Alta Express.
Forwarded by the Pacific Express Co.

By Pacific Express with their Forwarded by the Pacific Express Co. blue shield handstamp (ca1856) to White Sulphur Springs. The 3 rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855.


Pacific Express Co Building



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Company Big Oak Flat PAID

By Pacific Express Company Big Oak Flat PAID to San Francisco, with manuscript in sender's hand Big Oak Flat 10.3.56.
Pacific Express Co Chinese

By Pacific Express Co Chinese (Camp) to San Francisco on black printed frank "horse and rider" Pacific Express envelope on first issue Nesbitt entire.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. El Dorado

By Pacific Express Co. El Dorado with PAID in oval to San Francisco on first issue Nesbitt with seal on backflap. The 3 rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855.
Pacific Express Company Grass Valley

By Pacific Express Company Grass Valley to San Francisco. The 3 rate for distances less than 3000 miles became effective Apr 1, 1855. The 6 Nesbitt government envelope represents 2x the single rate.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Gold Hill May 4

By Pacific Express Co. Gold Hill May 4 to San Francisco in their paid handstamp franked envelope Pacific Express Co. Placerville Paid that the sender mailed from Gold Hill. One of only two known examples of Pacific Express with a Gold Hill marking.


Gold Hill Placemarker Map



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Negro Hill PAID

By Pacific Express Co. Negro Hill PAID to Sacramento on first issue Nesbitt government stamped envelope.
Pacific Express Co. Sacramento

By Pacific Express Co. Sacramento Sep 26 (ca1855) to Oroville in Pacific's "horse and rider" printed frank envelope in scarce blue color.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Co. Santa Clara

By Pacific Express Co. Santa Clara with boxed PAID to San Francisco; transferred within Pacific Express Co. San Francisco Feb 7 to "Colorado Hill Humbug" (one of the mining camps) "near Nevada, Cal".
Pacific Express Co. Sonora

By Pacific Express Co. Sonora with boxed PAID to Sacramento on first issue Nesbitt government issued envelope.



Western Expresses Pacific Express Company - Mar, 1855 to Apr, 1857
Pacific Express Strawberry Valley Cala

By Pacific Express PAID from Strawberry Valley Cala to Santa Cruz. Speculation is that the Strawberry Valley postmark (without date slugs) was likely used by the (former) postmaster as an express agent's marking.
Pacific Express Volcano

By Pacific Express Volcano Jan 14 (1857) to Sacramento. Enclosed short business letter datelined "Volcano Jan 13th 57" talks of tunnel work progressing.


Dateline Volcano Jan 13th 57



Western Expresses Pacific Union Express Company - 1868 to 1869
Pacific Union Express Company was incorporated in California Dec 18, 1867 with stockholders A. K. Grim and Lawrence W. Coe appointed as managers for the express on the West Coast with A. K. Tilton in New York. When service commenced on Jun 1, 1868, it was announced to include express matter and letters by every steamer via Panama and similar service to Hawaii, China and Japan. The company was set up "on the Wells, Fargo plan" to compete with them. Service to Nevada and Arizona was begun in 1869. On Dec 1, 1869 the company discontinued operations and its business transferred to Wells, Fargo.
Pacific Union Ex. Co. Sant. Clara Jan 13

By Pacific Union Ex. Co. Sant. Clara Jan 13 (1869) to San Francisco; exchanged with Bamber & Co's Express S.F. Jan 14 for delivery to Oakland.
Daily Alta California Dec 30, 1869 Advertisement

Dec 30, 1869 advertisement in the Daily Alta California announcing Pacific Union Express Co.'s closure.



Western Expresses Palmer & Co.'s Express - Mar, 1850 to Dec, 1851
Palmer & Co's Express was founded by Cyrus S. Palmer in New York on Mar 7, 1850. The express operated between coasts and briefly advertised offices in Sacramento and Marysville. The last mention found appears in the New York Weekly Herald of Dec 6, 1851 thanking the company for papers received.
Palmer & Cos Express Nov 12, 1850

By Palmer & Cos Express Nov 12, 1850 from San Francisco to New York, endorsed to be carried by a friend on the George Law's Pacific Line steamer Antelope (first return voyage); instead, carried by Palmer's agent:
  • PSMC steamer Tennessee, depart San Francisco Nov 15, 1850, arrive Panama City Dec 1, 1850
  • Nine days across the isthmus of Panama to Chagres
  • USMSC steamer Pacific, depart Chagres Dec 10, 1850, arrive Havana Dec 15, 1850
  • USMSC steamer Ohio, depart Havana Dec 18, 1850, arrive NY Jan 5, 1851
San Francisco November 12th 1850 Dateline

...I wish you never so entrust letters to individuals as their heads are so full of excitement upon arriving in California they seem to forget everything. It is different sending letters to the States. The most certain means of conveyance are the Post Office and Expresses...Mr. Harry B. McIlvain...The Steamer by which he goes, the Antelope leaves this afternoon at 3 o'clock...The Cholera has raged to no alarming extent and is now fast disappearing...you will be surprised to hear of the intended departure of William P. Harden for home. He will leave here some time next week in the vessel assigned to him for passage to Panama then across the isthmus home...Thos. Whaley



Western Expresses Palmer & Co.'s Express - Mar, 1850 to Dec, 1851
Palmer & Cos Express

circa Feb, 1851 by Palmer & Cos Express with their FREE handstamp from San Francisco to Governor McDougal in San Jose. John McDougal was governor of California from Jan 9, 1851 to Jan 8, 1852, during which time the state capital was at San Jose. Palmer briefly operated a route between San Francisco and San Jose by steamboat and overland.
Palmer & Co.'s Express route from San Francisco to San Jose by steamer and land.

Palmer & Co.'s Express route from San Francisco to San Jose by steamer and land.



Western Expresses Pauly & Nohrman's Express - 1864 to 1868
Nicholas O. Pauly and G. H. Nohrman combined their businesses to form an express operation that served the mining camps along Gibsonville Ridge. They are thought to have connected with Pacific Express Company.
PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express

PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express from an undisclosed location in the Gibsonville Ridge area to Port Wine. One of only about three known covers from this express.
PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express

PAID Pauly & Nohrman's Express from the Gibsonville Ridge to Gibsonville; by post office Gibsonville, Cal Dec 9 (1864 or 1865) to Albany, NY. The 24¢ adhesive (replaced) plus 3¢ printed stamp overpaid by 1¢ the 20¢ registration fee and double-weight envelope rate.


Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer and El Dorado Countiy Map



Western Expresses N. O. Pauly's Express - 1868
Nicholas O. Pauly and G. H. Norman (Nohrman) formed Pauly & Nohrman's Express in 1864 to serve the mining camps along Gibsonville Ridge. They are thought to have connected with Pacific Express Company. In 1868, they parted ways with Pauly continuing along the same route under his name for a short time.
N. O. Pauly's Express PAID

By N. O. Pauly's Express PAID from an undisclosed location in the Gibsonville Ridge area to Taylorville. The only reported example of this type printed frank, and one of only about four known N. O. Pauly cover of any kind.


Map Location of Taylorville



Western Expresses R. Penman's Express - 1869 to 1882
Penman's Express operated from Truckee to Jamison, Mohawk, and Eureka Mills in Plumas County. It was one of hundreds of "feeder" expresses that functioned throughout the Mother Lode in the northern Sierra Nevada. Penman connected with Wells, Fargo and Company at Truckee. Penman advertised his express and stage line in the Quincy "National" from 1869 to 1872 and in the Truckee "Republican" in the 1870's.
R. Penman's Express Truckee

By R. Penman's Express Truckee, Jamison, Mohawk, & Eureka Mills from Randolph to Truckee; exchanged with Wells, Fargo & Co. Truckee Nov 18 to Red Bluffs. Enclosed letter datelined Truckee, Sierra County Nov 17, 1874.

Datelined Truckee, Sierra County Nov 17, 1874

...Please find inclosed check for Sixty dollars & seventy five cents 60.75. I will try and send you the Bal in thirty days Money is very tight All most impossible to collect one dollar ...Yours truly, E. Gates



Western Expresses Pescadero & Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express -
1865 to 1866
This short-lived express operated from San Francisco to the Half Moon Bay area and south to Pescadero, CA. They also acted as a forwarder of express material for Wells Fargo.
Pescadero and Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express

By Pescadero and Half Moon Bay Stage Co.'s Express (likely from San Francisco) to San Mateo. One of only about ten known examples from this express and the only one not addressed to San Francisco.

Daily Alta California Aug 12, 1865 Advertisement

Aug 12, 1865 advertisement from the San Francisco Daily Alta California.



Western Expresses Peterson's Lower California Express -
Mar, 1863 to Jul, 1863
Using coastal steamers, Charles M. Peterson ran an express service between San Francisco and La Paz, Mexico. He established an office in Henry Payot's Book Store in San Francisco. Peterson may also have operated a pony/mule service between the cities of Cape San Lucas and La Paz in Mexico.
Peterson's Lower California Express

By Peterson's Lower California Express from (Cape) San Lucas Baja California (Mexico) to San Francisco with Free notation. Docketed Cape St. Lucas Apr 11, 1863 at left. The handstamp Estafeta de Baja California translates as "Express of Lower California." One of only two known Peterson's label covers.

Express of Lower California Map



Western Expresses Phillip's Express - 1860 to 1861
Phillips Express operated from Nevada City to the Dutch Flat, Alpha and Washington area. Some records indicate that there was a Phillips operating as an expressman in the Nevada City area as early as 1856.
Pr Phillips Express Manuscript to Nevada, California.

Pr Phillips Express manuscript to Nevada, California. Docket at right notes "Letter dated March 21, Rec'd March 23/60." One of only three known examples from this express, two of which are manuscripts. The area served by Phillip's Express is shown on the map below.


Dutch Flat to Nevada City and Washington & Alpha Route Map



Western Expresses Pioneer Express - 1853 to Late 1850's
Little is known about the Pioneer Express. It is believed to have operated from Georgetown in El Dorado County to the mining camps along the Middle Fork of the American River.
Pioneer Express Due 2/8

By Pioneer Express Due 2/8 to Georgetown, El Dorado County, California. Notation on back indicates that this cover was sacrificed to obtain the 10 adhesive (Type IV, position 55L1) it once held! Apparently mailed from some post office in the eastern US to Georgetown, with carriage from there to the addressee by the Pioneer Express. Prepayment of 10 postage for letters to/from the Pacific Coast became effective Apr 1, 1855.


Georgetown Location Map



Western Expresses Pony Express - Apr 3, 1860 to Oct 26, 1861
Second Rate Period - Westbound
California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860)

From New York to St. Joseph via regular U.S. mail with California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860); then by The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company St. Joseph, Mo. Dec 20 Pony Express from St. Joseph to Sacramento by pony; by post office Sacramento City, Cal Jan 4, 1861 to Vallejo. The Pony Express rate was $2.50 per quarter ounce from Aug 14, 1860 to Apr 14, 1861 (second rate period). (Ex-FDR, Haub)


Georgetown Location Map



Western Expresses Pony Express - Apr 3, 1860 to Oct 26, 1861
Fourth Rate Period - Westbound
California Pony Express New York Dec 15 (1860)

By U.S. post office New York Sep 4 (1861) to St. Joseph, Mo.; by Pony Express Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company St. Joseph Mo. Sep 12 in franked envelope with Ounce PAID from St. Joseph to Placerville per Pony Express and Agent of Pony Express St. Joseph, Mo to Virginia City, Nevada Territory. The sender would have paid $1.20 for this envelope (20 for government franked envelope plus $1.00 pony fee). The Pony Express rate was $1.00 per half ounce from Jul 1, 1861 to Oct 31, 1861 (fourth rate period).


Georgetown Location Map San Francisco Evening Bulletin ad of Jun 26, 1861 which reads, in part: "Connecting with the Overland Mail Company's Pony Express at Placerville. Letters must be enclosed in our twenty cent government franked envelopes and charges from Placerville prepaid at the rate of one dollar for each half ounce, or any fraction thereof. All letters not enclosed as above will be charged at the rate of 25 cents each."



Western Expresses Prindle's Express - 1860 to 1867
Charles W. Prindle started in the express business as an agent for Crooks Express. Prindle purchased Crooks operation in 1860 and began operating over the same general area from a base at Yreka, providing service to the mines in the mountains west of Yreka and along the Klamath and Scott Rivers. Both Jacobs and Meamber have been referenced as partners for short periods of time. Prindle's Express may have connected with Wells Fargo at Yreka.
Prindle's Express from Yreka to Scott & Klamath Rivers

Prindle's Express from Yreka to Scott & Klamath Rivers into Yreka; Rec'd July 19, 1861 docketing. Advertisement below from the Yreka Weekly Union of May 5, 1860.

Yreka Weekly Union 5/5/1866 Prindle Express Ad



Western Expresses Prindle's Express - 1860 to 1867
Prindle's Express to Scott & Klamath Rivers

Three-line printed frank of Prindle's Express to Scott & Klamath Rivers into Yreka; Rec'd Mch 19/67 docketing.

Early sketch of Yreka

Early sketch of Yreka

 Back To Top

Site Page