History: The Pony Express

A vintage poster advertising rates for Pony Express mail

On April 3, 1860, in St Joseph, Missouri, Johnny Fry grabbed his mail satchel loaded with (49) letters, (5) telegrams and some other paperwork and took off, headed west.  At the same time, Harry Roff left California and headed east.  The two began their 1966 mile routes and thus began the Pony Express.  Before the start of the Pony Express, people relied on the stage coach to deliver their mail and it took approximately twenty-four days to reach its destination. It operated for only nineteen months, not being necessary once the trans-continental telegraph line was completed.

With stations set up about ten miles apart, the riders would change out their horses at every stop.  This allowed them to keep their fast pace.  The pace was around ten miles per hour and continued around the clock.  According to the autobiography of Alexander Majors (one of the Pony Express founders), riders were paid in the arena of $125 each month.  Majors, along with William H Russell and William B Waddell, were owners of a stage coach business that was already familiar with the need for reliable mail deliveries.

Each June there is a commemorative ride of the Pony Express, staged by the Pony Express Association.  To find out more about the ride as well as additional information on the Pony Express, click here: https://nationalponyexpress.org/about/

As a note, if you do decide to volunteer to ride in the annual commemoration, you must take the pledge: ““I,___________, do hereby swear, before the great and living God, that during my engagement as a member of the National Pony Express Association Re-Ride, I will under no circumstances use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other member of the Association, and that in every respect, I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my associates. So help me God.”

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