Postmaster general cuts Rawhide Buttes mail
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Through the efforts of Wyoming Territorial officials the daily mail service from Cheyenne to Rawhide Buttes has been retained. The Postmaster General in Washington D.C. had ordered the service to Rawhide Buttes cut to three times a week.
The weekly swing run north from the Buttes to Buckhorn via Running Water, Hat Creek, and other points along the old stage and freight train was started in 1880 after the mail contract between Cheyenne and Deadwood was curtailed. Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the stage line, holds this contract and the mail is delivered by a buckboard driver.
Voorhees is a very busy man as he makes his rounds on the line in a two horse buggy as he inspects stations, horses, equipment and keeps everything moving along smoothly.
This would be a big job on the Cheyenne and Black Hills line by itself, but Voorhees is also in charge of the Wyoming stage line, the Sidney to Deadwood line, and a line from Ft. Collins, Colorado to Mason City, and he has some other mail contracts.
The government has been investigating suspected cases of fraud by many star route mail contracts in the west. Cases have been filed against several of the contractors. The Cheyenne to Deadwood route has not been involved nor has the Fargo to Preambia route.
The "star route" designation by the Post Office department identifies all mail service that is not performed by railway or steamboat companies. It is claimed by investigators that over-payments amounting to over two million dollars have been made on forty western routes.
The method of obtaining the money illegally was to present affidavits for increased service, including more men and horses on various routes, without having such service. The contractors and other persons in high official positions are suspected to have participated in the frauds.
The star route frauds first came to light when a congressional subcommittee on appropriations made an adverse report on the granting of increased appropriations for covering a large deficit in the Post Office department, under the administrations of Postmaster General Thomas J. Brady.
When President Garfield received this information on the so-called "Star Route Ring" he directed officials to proceed at once with criminal prosecutions, without regard to whom might be injured.