from Mexicana, Journal of MEPSI, April 2002
Compiled by Jaime Benavides
The "Second Period" overlaps the First Period and starts after a contract between Wells Fargo and the Pacific Mail Steampship Company (PMSC) in 1860 for its ships to carry mail and goods to five ports along the Pacific coast of Mexico, and the establishment of Express Offices or appointment of Express Agents in these ports. Thus, Wells Fargo Express officially began operations in Mexico as these agencies and offices opened. The ports in a southerly direction down the coast of Mexico were Gaymas in the state of Sonora, La paz at the southern end of Lower Baja California, Mazatlán in the state of Sinaloa, Acapulco in the state of Guerrero, and Salina Cruz in the state of Oaxaca. These offices and agencies would use an oval canceling device with the name of the office or agency at the bottom of the oval (Figures 2 & 3) and sometimes will be found with the "MEXICAN ROUTE" or "MEX COAST MESSr" oval handstamps with them on the same cover.
|Figuer 2.- "Second Period" cover from Mexico to San Francisco, California, with a blue WF|
Salina Cruz oval cancel on a Scott U59 3-cent Washington 1863 Nesbitt Issue cover
Wells Fargo had good expectations regarding entrance into Mexico and was already developing offices and express routes in the U.S. Territories along its border. The Butterfield´s Overland Mail had opened the southern route thru El Paso, Texas, Tucson, A.T., and Fort Yuma on the colorado River in 1858. Wells Fargo was using this route for express mail and transportation of bullioin to the East and West Coasts from newly developing mining areas in the Arizona Territory. With the beginning of the Apkache uprising under cochise in the southeastern part of the territoiry in 1861 ante the onset of the American Civil War, the United States Postmaster General Office ordered the southern route of the Overland Mail to be relocated and the central route from Sacramento, California, to St. Joseph, Missouri, was chosen. The Overland Mail southern route between St. Louis and San Francisco via Los Angeles was abandoned late in 1861. All of this brought isolation and economic collapse to Arizona and the New Mexico Territories, along with a dramatic slowdown in West Coast travel and shipping. The situation in Mexico wasn't much better. Local politcal bosses along the West Coast disregarded the few directives that arrived from the shaky Federal government in Mexico City. They set themselves up independently from the Federal government and issued favors and positions for money to line their own pockets. In the rugged uninhabitated land areas between and behind Guaymas and Mazatlán, Yaqui Indians waged war on all who entered making land communication with the Federal government in Mexico City almost impossible.
By checking Wells Fargo's Express Office Directory listing by year, it shows that Guaymas was the first office to open in the year of 1860. Then followed by Mazatlán in 1861 and La Paz in 1863. The Acapulco Office is not listed until 1872, and Salina Cruz isn't listed in any of the early office directories I have seen. More mail is seen from Guaymas than any other port. Mazatlán is next, and La Paz brings up a distance third place. Hardly any WF mail exists from Acapulco or Salina Cruz during this or any other period of WF Exporess operations in Mexico. I have a cover from each of these port towns thus indicating that at least an Express Agent of Wells Fargo was located or present in them at some time during the early part of this Second Period. These Port Towns' Express offices and agencies along with an office in Panama, and one in San Diego that handled Mexican Express Mail from Ensenada and other Mexican towns and estancias in Upper Baja California, would compose the network of Wells Fargo's West Coast hearquarters in San Francisco managed the new division and signified the envelopes used by adding two lines under their typical frank on United States Postal Stationary that read "PAID OVER OUR" (fisrt line) and "MEXICAN COAST AND CALIFORNIA EXPTESS - 25 CTS" (second line). For listings of WF Postal Stationary used in Mexico during the First, Second and Third period see: Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Handstamps and Franks by Dr. Victor M Berthold, or Private Printed Franks o U.S. Government Envelopes by Austin P. Haller.
During the American Civil War Years, Wells Fargo's main office in San Francisco paid little attention to the new Mexican Coast Route service and shifted its concerns to the central Butterfield Overland Route and in developing its services north to Canada and east thru Nevada, Utah and the Dakota territories. In the 1860's thru the early 1870's the Comstock silver lode around Virginia City, Nevada, held Wells Fargo's attention; and with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in May of 1869, the Mexican Coast Route became lasta on the priority list. Guaymas became the main port of activity because Fort Yuma, Fort Mojave, mining camps, and developing towns along the Colorado River, received most of their mail and supplies by ship from San Francisco thru the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) and then up to Colorado River, untilk the middle of the 1870's.
The Second Period begins with the opening of Wells Fargo Express Offices and hirign of Espress Agents in Mwexican port cities and Wells Fargo disegnated franks for use on the Mexican Coast Route printed on United States postal stationery. The period ends shortly after the joining of the U.P.U. (Universal Postal Union) by Mexico and the United States of America.