Boozman Presses Senate Committee to Advance National Historic Trail Legislation

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is pressing the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to take up his legislation designating Arkansas’s historic Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail.

In a letter sent last week to committee leadership, Boozman and Democrat cosponsor Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) urged their colleagues to advance their bill recognizing the significance of the Butterfield Overland Trail to our nation’s growth and development.

Much of the trail used to transport mail and passengers from Missouri and Memphis traveled through portions of Arkansas. The routes from St. Louis and Memphis merged in Fort Smith, and the Butterfield Overland Express stagecoaches traveled throughout the state.Stagecoaches made stops between Memphis and Fort Smith in St. Francis, Prairie, Lonoke, Faulkner, Conway, Pope, Yell, Logan and Franklin counties.The northwestern route that came out of Missouri included stops in Benton, Washington and Crawford counties.

Boozman recently had the opportunity to take in a remnant of the trail’s history by viewing an authentic Butterfield stagecoach.

What They Are Saying about Boozman’s Legislation:

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “The trail ought to be marked, at least in part as it follows today’s roads and highways. Additional markers with explanations of its history would be nice here in Northwest Arkansas and into the River Valley. Americans ought not forget their nation’s past.” Read the paper’s full editorial here.

Stacy Hurst, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism: “The Butterfield Trail is an important piece of Arkansas’s heritage, and this national historic trail designation will help showcase Arkansas’s role in the story of America’s growth westward. We are grateful for the work of Sen. Boozman and his colleagues to pursue this designation and to help us better share this story.”

Marilyn Heifner of Heritage Trail Partners: “In its time, John Butterfield’s popular Butterfield Overland Mail Route was heralded by some as one of the ‘greatest events of the age.’ Heritage Trail Partners has been working to attain National Historic Trails designation for 20 years. We have national partners including the Oregon-California Trails Association, Butterfield Overland Trail Friends, and many local partners along the trail in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. We appreciate Senator Boozman’s help in getting this much deserved national historic trail status.”

Margaret Motley, President of the Pope County Historical Foundation: “Butterfield’s Overland Mail stagecoach route is an extremely important piece of American history to preserve for future generations. The Potts Inn in Pottsville, Arkansas was completed by Kirkbride Potts in 1858, the same year as the first run of the Butterfield and is the only surviving stagecoach home station in the state. Designation as a National Historic Trail is an opportunity to tell this amazing story and would be a powerful tourism draw for all of the towns and states that were a part of this incredible time in America.”

Bill Martin, Board member of Oregon-California Trails Association: “The Oregon-California Trails Association, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization promoting preservation of our nation’s historical trails, strongly supports designation of the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail. We believe it would be a wonderful addition to the National Trails System and provide long-overdue recognition to one of the historic trails that helped open the American West. It would also be helpful to heritage tourism in the eight states through which it traveled and help preserve a cultural asset in the American southwest.”