A very important part of the Westward Expansion was the Butterfield Express. It was the first trans-continental mail system that traveled over land. It traveled over Arkansas on its journey from the Mississippi River to California. It only ran from 1858 to 1861. It was the longest "stage coach line" ever. It was about 2,812 miles long. Its two main routes through Arkansas were south from Missouri and westward from Memphis. This mail system was vital in the forming of the American West before the Civil War. Mail was always important since the colonies, so Congress decided to have an over-land mail system to the west coast at the Pacific. The founding of gold on the west coast brought so many people over that a system to carry mail, passengers, and supplies was needed. Over-land mail was faster and safer than by sea. It made its first trip on September 16, 1858, with John Butterfield on board.