The Pony Express was an urgent mail delivery system that was established in 1860. It used a fixed route and riders all along the way to carry mail quickly from Missouri in the east of USA all the way to California in the western extreme of USA.
The Pony Express used a route that covered 1900 miles from Missouri to California. Much of this route followed the famous Oregon Trail which the American settlers had used during the westward expansion of the USA. The Pony Express established stations all along these 1900 miles.
At each station, riders with fresh horses stood ready to receive the mail. As soon as mail was received, the riders galloped to the next station and passed it to the riders there who continued the journey onwards in this way. This was a very efficient and quick mail delivery system. Normally, it took regular mail weeks to reach from Missouri to California on horseback carriages. The Pony Express took its mail from Missouri to California in only 9 days.
It was a long journey from Missouri to California. And so, riders had to be fresh and quick in order to carry the mail fast. So the Pony Express established 184 stations on this route. During the first part of the journey, riders of the Pony Express used the Oregon Trail. They then followed the Mormon Trail to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah before continuing the journey through Nevada and into California. The journey was hard and the riders had to cross the Rocky Mountains as well as the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The most important thing for the Pony Express was to deliver its mail quickly. For this purpose, the riders and the horses had to be fresh. This is why the Express had established nearly 200 stations all along the route. The riders reached a station, took new horses, and continued their journey.
They changed their horses in this way every 10 to 12 miles. In all, the riders covered from 80 to 100 miles a day which was a lot back in those days. The riders had to work hard and earned $100 for their job which was a lot of money at the time. The Pony Express specifically required the riders not to be overweight so that the horses could travel as quickly as possible. At the height of its popularity, the Pony Express had 400 horses and 180 riders in its service.
As awesome as the Pony Express was, it didn’t last very long. It started in April, 1860 and had to be shut down in October, 1861. The main problem was that the Pony Express cost a lot of money to carry urgent mail from Missouri to California and not everyone could afford to pay so much money for the mail.
On the other hand, the Express couldn’t manage without this money since it had to pay so many riders and had so many stations to take care of. Finally, in 1861 the transcontinental telegraph service began which allowed people to send their messages across USA more quickly and with far less expense. As a result, people stopped using Pony Express and it had to be shut down.
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pony Express Rider!: A Dusty, Thankless Job You’d Rather Not Do
Learn More about The The Pony Express 1860 at Wikipedia