Butterfield Stage Experience Sets Stage For Scenic Route

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Benton County has a bounty of biking and walking trails connecting its cities and towns through beautiful, peaceful historic places along back country roads. The Butterfield Stage Experience is a new route passing through the county extending for 254 miles through nine counties, and 27 main streets. It begins in Springfield and ends in Jefferson City. Bicyclists will get to enjoy a 60-mile gravel road race on a Benton County part of the Butterfield Stage Experience route this Saturday, October 26.  There will be a grand opening and ribbon cutting event at 8 AM and the race begins at 8:30 at the courthouse in Warsaw. The bicyclists will go to Lincoln, Cole Camp and then return to Warsaw.
Fees for adult bikers $45 each, for E-Bikes $35, and Juniors $15. There are cash prizes for the top three males and females. There are awards for the top three males and females for Juniors, and shirts for E-Bikes.
The Butterfield Stage Experience route was inspired in the spring of 2018 at a regional trails meeting headed by Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Brent Hugh, with the Missouri Bicycle Federation was instrumental in assisting the regional trail planning group with learning what was possible and how to create routes through the Kaysinger Region. 
Mac Vorce, Director of the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, said that there was no money spent on the project.
“We used gravel highways and low travel roads,” said Vorce. “Going through multitudes of workshops about economic development along trails with the organization ‘New Growth,’ it became clear that there were big possibilities with the little investment from each community, utilizing existing infrastructure. We looked at our whole county and Lincoln became the hub linking us to the Rock Island and Katy Trails in Windsor.”
Vorce stated that the new route has been planned (as close as possible) to follow the original Missouri route of the Butterfield Stage Overland Mail that operated from 1858 to 1861.  John Butterfield signed a contract with the U.S. government to provide twice-a-week mail service from St. Louis to San Francisco. Missouri Representative Warren Love, District 125, and Mel Gilbert, a Missouri historian and attorney from Buffalo, want to preserve the history of the Butterfield Stage Overland Mail route as a historic route by introducing a bill into Congress.  
The first official full ride of the 254-mile Butterfield Stage Experience route was completed on Labor Day weekend by Jenn Bradshaw, a resident of Warsaw and four-time Missouri State biking champion. 
“The experience was an adventure through Missouri with views of endless fields, rolling hills, forests, small towns and friendly folks and dogs,” said Bradshaw. “Plus, the GPS routes were spot on… I didn’t treat the Butterfield Stage Experience as a race, I took my time and enjoyed the ride…This experience has become about promoting the connectivity of rural towns through the passion of cycling. I am really thankful to my team mates and all who made the Butterfield Stage Experience happen. I can’t wait to ride it again.”
Vorce said that since Bradshaw’s ride, three tourists from Northwest Arkansas, and someone from St. Louis completed the route.|