Smith’s Station on the Butterfield
Just over thirty miles northeast of Abilene sits the Chimney Creek Ranch, established in 1876, the ranch is home to cattle and native species along with conserved grasslands and water sources. However, before the ranch was formed, the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, which ran from 1858-1861, made its way through the area. On the ranch stands the remnants of the only stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route in Shackelford County. Smith’s Station gave travelers a place to eat, rest, trade supplies, allow for their mules to be groomed or switched out, and add additional freight if necessary. The stage stop was in between two others at Clear Fork and Fort Phantom Hill.
In 2002, the current owners of the Chimney Creek Ranch, Hank and Ted Paup, were approached by historians and archaeologists for research on Smith’s Station which subsequently led to the excavation of the site. They uncovered hundreds of artifacts including horse and mule shoes, wagon parts, nails, small tools, military items and casings, kitchen utensils, and various other artifacts.
Join us in the History Galleries on the third floor of The Grace Museum to see this exhibition, which will highlight the history and archaeology of Smith’s Station, provide an overview of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, and will give a backdrop to the future establishment of the Chimney Creek Ranch.