Monday, June 18th, 2012

Rough and Ready – Butterfield Stage Stop

Rough and Ready was the second stop of the Overland Mail Stage Line after leaving Mesilla. (The first stop was Picacho.)

The Rough and Ready station is on the west side of the Rough and Ready Hills. Upon leaving Picacho, the trail led through Box Canyon north of Picacho peak, across flat tableland, and then through a pass to the station, as shown below. The hills to the north of the pass are the Sleeping Lady Hills, to the south the Rough and Ready Hills. The distance as traveled by the trail is about 15 miles. Traces of the trail are still easily seen in damage to the terrain and wagon-wheel wear-marks in rocks.Rough and Ready Butterfield Stage Stop

Here is a close view of the station location:
Rough and Ready Butterfield Stage Stop

If you climb the summit above the station, you see Picacho Peak in the distance (circled) and the environmental disturbance due to the trail:
Rough and Ready Butterfield Trail

In the foreground of the photo above is one of the cairns established by the Bartlett-Conde* survey to mark the border between Mexico and the United States. Following the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, both countries agreed to a joint survey to establish the border. The survey was to start at El Paso del Norte and go west. Because of a bad map, the starting location was mistakenly set 42 miles north of where it should have been. This mistake put Mesilla in Mexico and led to a nasty border dispute that was only settled by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. The map below shows the mistaken area (click for a larger map):
Bartlett-Conde Survey Map - 1848

There is little left of the Rough and Ready station. Many of the still visible ruins are likely of a later date. An archaeological excavation established that the station consisted of a two-room stone and adobe house with chimneys and a large adobe corral. There was no water source at the station. A dirt tank was dug to capture rain water and water was also hauled from Mesilla.

Here are some ruins:
Rough and Ready Butterfield Stage Stop

Here is one of the stakes marking a corner of the archaeological excavation:
Rough and Ready Butterfield Stage Stop

There is a mysterious burial or memorial of unknown origin a short distance from the old station that reads “Stubs, RIP.” It has no date, but can not be more than 20 years old. If you have any information on this cement marker, please communicate it.
Rough and Ready Butterfield Stage Stop - Stubs, RIP

*The lead American surveyor was John Russell Bartlett, the lead Mexican surveyor was Pedro Garcia Conde.

See also:
Picacho Cemetery
Picacho – A Brief History
Picacho Peak
Picacho — Forgotten Butterfield Stage Stop
Trip to Mason’s Ranch

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