At one time, the United States was a vast continent without any way to communicate from coast to coast. In the days prior to regular mail and parcel delivery, people in one part of the country could not communicate with people elsewhere. That was until a delivery service called the Pony Express was created.
The Pony Express was created on April 1, 1860 as a system to deliver mail to various parts of the continent. The national Pony Express was an expansion of a service started by Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company in 1849. One year later, it became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. The original Pony Express was created by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell.
The national Pony Express began delivering mail and small parcels utilizing a relay system of riders on horseback. The Pony Express utilized a route from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, with riders taking paths through the prairies, plains, deserts and mountains of the western portion of the United States. With the Pony Express system in place, mail delivery from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean was reduced to about a ten day time frame.
The route that the Pony Express riders took followed the path of the Oregon Trail. The 1900 mile route had stations along the route every 10 miles or so. The riders and their horses would go from one station to the next station where they would hand the mail to the next rider who would continue to the next station. The riders would ride at a rapid rate for their segment of the route, which would speed the mail along the trail.
The Pony Express was vital in connecting the United States and especially the newly established state of California. The Pony Express was a vital part of the country for eighteen months, until its end in October 1861. With the invention of the telegraph, communication between locations could now be delivered faster by telegraph as opposed to hand delivery by Pony Express.
However, the concept of the Pony Express, with its established route and its network of stations along the route led to the advent of national mail service through the United States Postal Service along with future parcel delivery services such as Federal Express, UPS and other current delivery systems.
The Pony Express leaves a legacy in dedication in mail delivery that is respected to this day. To understand more about the Pony Express and its legacy, we have gathered many resources on the subject for your reading pleasure:
- California Origins of the Pony Express
- The Founding of the Pony Express
- The Demise of the Pony Express
- Pony Express is Established
- Pony Express Museum in Missouri
- Pony Express Stations
- Route of the Pony Express
- Pony Express Riders on the Oregon Trail
- The Pony Express for Kids
- The Pony Express
- Pioneers and Cowboys of the Pony Express
- Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express