Wire Road

1836 - 1922

After Missouri became a state in 1821, the U.S. Army began searching for a road to connect St. Louis and Fort Smith, Arkansas. The route they established followed a path used by Osage Indians and was commonly known to Missourians as the “Military Road,” or the “Fayetteville Road.” From 1858 to 1861, the Butterfield Overland Mail Company used the road to carry mail and passengers from St. Louis to San Francisco, California.

The road got its famous name during the Civil War when Union forces strung telegraph wire along it. This new technology became an important target for Confederate troops and their guerrilla allies. Armies from both sides used the road extensively during the Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove campaigns. Use of the Wire Road declined in the early twentieth century as cars became more common. It was formally abandoned in 1922 when the Missouri State Highway Commission approved the construction of new roads.

The Wire Road can be seen outside of the John Ray home at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Ray was a postmaster, and his home was a mail stop.    

Object Details

Categories: Business & Economy, Natural Enviroment, War & Conflict

Date: 1836 - 1922

Subject: Transportation

Contributing Institution: Springfield-Greene County Library District

Copy Request: The Springfield-Greene County Library District offers broad public access to its collection to enhance education and scholarship. Written permission is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected images(s) beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. For more information on using this image, contact the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Rights: The Springfield-Greene County Library District does not hold copyright on many of the materials in the Local History & Genealogy collection. Patrons assume all responsibility for obtaining the necessary permissions for publication and further use, and assume sole responsibility for any infringement of the literary rights, copyrights, or other rights which pertain to these materials.

County: Greene

Region: Southwest

Latitude: 37.106516

Longitude: -93.398907

Photographer: Michael Price