Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Pony Express

In 1860, sending mail was not as easy as it is today. In those days, many letters were sent by ship. Other mail was given to travelers passing through town on wagon trains. It could take months before a letter arrived –if it arrived at all.

In 1860, William Russell came up with a plan to carry mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, in just 10 days, covering a distance of about 2,000 miles. He called his idea the “Pony Express”.

The Pony Express began on April 3, 1860 using young men to ride fast horses to deliver the mail. Along the way, stations provided fresh horses, food, water, and a place to sleep. Riders were paid about $25 a week to get the mail through, no matter what. The Pony Express advertised for “expert riders willing to risk death daily”. Risk to the riders came from Indian attacks, injuries, bad weather, or natural disasters.

The Pony Express was a huge success, however, another invention; the telegraph doomed the Pony Express. On October 24, 1861, a telegraph message was sent from San Francisco, California to Washington D.C. News could now be sent across miles in a matter of minutes. Two days later, the Pony Express made its last run.

The Pony Express lasted for only 18 months, but has captured its place in history and in the hearts of many.

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