Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pony Express

I love research. Earlier this week, I was looking for information on the building of the railroads across the US. As happens to me almost every time I try to research a tiny fact, I start clicking and before I know it, I'm researching something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I was originally looking for. This time, my clicking took me to a site about the Pony Express.

I'd heard about it, of course, watched the original 30-minuteTV show back in the late 50's as well as The Young Riders with Stephen Baldwin and Josh Brolin in the late 70's, but I didn't realize that the Pony Express actually existed for less than two years.

In 1860, the Civil War was imminent. Three men, realizing that better communication was needed between the east and west, founded the Pony Express. On April 3, 1860, the first rides left St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, each covering 250 miles in a 24-hour period and making the 1800-mile journey between the two stations in an unprecedented ten days.

Many of the riders, young men (many of them still in their teens) answered ads like this one:

"Men Wanted" The undersigned wishes to
hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the
management of horses, as hostlers, or riders
on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City.
Wages $50 per month and found."
- Ad in Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860.

Over the next few months, the Pony Express company swelled to over 100 way stations, 80 riders and 200 horses, but in all the trips that were made, only one mail delivery was lost. The last trip began on October 24, 1861 and the last letters reached California in early November.

Less than nineteen months. Yet in such a short period of time, the Pony Express became a legend, and eventually spawned movies, TV shows and books about these daring young men who carried the mail over uncivilized and dangerous territory. I never did find the information I'd started to look for, but learning about the Pony Express gave me a new twist to the project I'm working on. So, moral of the story? Click away. You never know what you'll find.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing.