Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Pony Express

"Talk about the need for a railroad to the Pacific soon surfaced in Washington...Meanwhile, the Indian country was crisscrossed by overland freight lines, and Pony Express riders delivered mail between Missouri and California" (America, P.479).

The Pony Express was a fast-paced, but short-lived mail delivery system founded in 1860 by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell and Alexander Majors. Aside from the westward expansion that had been ongoing for the past two decades, the need for swift lines of communication arose at the time amid concerns of an impending Civil War. The courier service used a relay of men and horses, riding a very dangerous 2,000 mile long trail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. Riders would carry mail bags, and change horses at Pony Express stations along the route. While the Pony Express was effective, delivering mail in less than 10 days with only one delivery ever lost, its expenses far outweighed its revenues. Making matters worse, the Pacific Telegraph was introduced on October 24th, 1861, rendering the Pony Express obsolete--the service lasted only 19 months.

The Pony Express National Museum

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