Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pony Express Introduced...!

The date was April 3, 1860 and what was probably one of the greatest experiments of it's time was about to begin.

Very few things have captured the imagination like the Pony Express. It didn't last long, but it's history was a rich one. Just the thing to talk about on Western Wednesday!

Pony Express debuts

On this day in 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for speedy mail delivery. Although ultimately short-lived and unprofitable, the Pony Express captivated America’s imagination and helped win federal aid for a more economical overland postal system. It also contributed to the economy of the towns on its route and served the mail-service needs of the American West in the days before the telegraph or an efficient transcontinental railroad.

The Pony Express debuted at a time before radios and telephones, when California, which achieved statehood in 1850, was still largely cut off from the eastern part of the country. Letters sent from New York to the West Coast traveled by ship, which typically took at least a month, or by stagecoach on the recently established Butterfield Express overland route, which could take from three weeks to many months to arrive. Compared to the snail’s pace of the existing delivery methods, the Pony Express’ average delivery time of 10 days seemed like lightning speed.

The Pony Express Company, the brainchild of William H. Russell, William Bradford Waddell and Alexander Majors, owners of a freight business, was set up over 150 relay stations along a pioneer trail across the present-day states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Riders, who were paid approximately $25 per week and carried loads estimated at up to 20 pounds of mail, were changed every 75 to 100 miles, with horses switched out every 10 to 15 miles. Among the riders was the legendary frontiersman and showman William “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917), who reportedly signed on with the Pony Express at age 14. The company’s riders set their fastest time with Lincoln’s inaugural address, which was delivered in just less than eight days.

The initial cost of Pony Express delivery was $5 for every half-ounce of mail. The company began as a private enterprise and its owners hoped to gain a profitable delivery contract from the U.S. government, but that never happened. With the advent of the first transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861, the Pony Express ceased operations. However, the legend of the lone Pony Express rider galloping across the Old West frontier to deliver the mail lives on today.

The riders faced many dangers along the way, I'm sure. The one thing they didn't have to worry about was being bored.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Rain is due to return later this week!


Judy said...

I read somewhere that some Pony Express riders had to tie themselves into their saddles to keep from fall off asleep. Wouldn't that be awful to fall off your horse and it run away from you in the middle of the desert?

I made pineapple upside-down cake if anyone would like a piece.

Chickenmom said...

I remember when I was a kid there was a movie about the Pony Express. Will have to see if I can find it! The cake sounds wonderful, Judy!

linda m said...

They say in some parts of the West you can still see the trail they rode on. Can't imagine doing that for a living. Coffee on the patio sounds great as we are in the middle of rain and high winds. Judy, I would love a piece of cake.

Momlady said...

You always have the most interesting stories! Must have been a hard life on both rider and horse. Pineapple upside down cake sounds yummy.

HermitJim said...

Hey Judy...
I'd love some of that pineapple upside-down cake, thank you very much! Wouldn't surprise me if they did have to tie themselves to the saddle.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Phyllis...
I appreciate you trying to find that movie.
Many thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda...
Wouldn't surprise me if part of the trail is still visible
Parts of Texas are still flooded from all the rain and there is more on the way
Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Momlady...
I'm glad that you find them interesting. That's the idea!
Thanks for coming by today!

JO said...

It was a tough life, being under the threat of Indian attack and every other wild animals that still roamed free. But they had to be fearless riders.

Coffee on the patio and then start loading up the truck slowly of course finally going to do some camping over the weekend.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Ah, the good old days. If I had lived in that era, I would have wanted to be pony express rider.

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
I'd say that fearless was a good way to describe them Either that or crazy!
Thanks for dropping by, sweetie!

Hey Dizzy...
You would have made a good one, I reckon !
Thanks for coming by today!