The Pony Express

The Pony Express

“Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen.  Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily.  Orphans preferred.”

pony-express

Did you know:

  • The Pony Express mail service was founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell.
  • It was instrumental in establishing the state of California, keeping pioneers and prospectors in touch with the rest of the U.S.
  • The company operated for only 19 months — between 1860 and 1861 — during which time it delivered approximately 35,000 letters.
  • In the age before the telegraph, it was the fastest form of East-West communication.
  • Stations were set about 10 miles apart along the Pony Express route to ensure that messages got from the Atlantic to the Pacific in about 10 days.
  • The initial cost for mail was $5 per 1/2 oz, but this had dropped to $1 by 1861.
  • The Pony Express began with 120 riders, 154 stations, 400 horses, and special saddlebags to quickly transfer mail between horses.
  • Employees were required to swear an Oath of Good Conduct.
  •  At its peak, riders could not weigh more than 125 lbs, they changed every 75 to 100 miles, and rode day or night (sometimes for 20 hours at a time).
  • The arrival of the transcontinental telegraph made the company obsolete.
  • Buffalo Bill Cody claimed to have ridden for the Pony Express and kept its memory alive in his Wild West shows.

Sources:

History, “Ten Things You May Not Know About the Pony Express” at http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-pony-express

Wikipedia, “Pony Express” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pony_Express

 

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