The route was in use for only four years, from 1858 until 1861 before it was moved farther north and beyond the Texas border.
During its Texas operation, passengers could book transport alongside the mail at two hundred dollars a ticket one-way, sharing a crowded coach or spring wagon with a half-dozen fellow passengers and their firearms. The entire trek took twenty-five days for each horse-drawn coach yet layovers were ill-advised as passengers were likely to lose their seats, often waiting a month in whatever outpost they regretfully stopped in before catching another coach out. Despite an arduous, circuitous route that required crossing swollen rivers, negotiating washouts, traversing deserts and dusty plains, and navigating the dangers of hostile territory, the Butterfield delivered mail almost without fail at ten cents per half ounce. Together with the contract's federal compensation, passenger and express receipts grossed contractor John Butterfield almost three quarters of a million dollars per year. Calculating for inflation, that sum would amount to almost eighteen million bucks today, minus the long bumpy ride.