The Smoky Hill Trail was named for the Smoky Hill River
that it followed across western Kansas. The Smoky Hill Trail was prompted by the discovery of gold near Denver
and the rush to the Rockies in 1859. It was the quickest route there. Salina
was the westernmost post on the Smoky Hill Trail in 1860.
Col. David A. Butterfield established a stage line, the Butterfield Overland 'Despatch', to carry freight and passengers from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado. It traveled the 592 mile long Smoky Hill Route during the line's existence (June 1865 - August 18, 1870). Relay stations were built every twelve miles for the passenger's comfort. The stage line was sold in 1866 to Ben Holladay. Ben Holladay sold out in 1866 to Wells, Fargo and Company. The stage line grew shorter as the Kansas Pacific Railroad moved toward Denver, and in 1870 the stage line was no longer needed. The coming of the railroad marked the end of the stagecoach era in American history.