Pony Express

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Pony_Express_Trail_Through_Utah.png
The Utah portion of the Pony Express Trail.

The Pony Express was the first fast mail line across the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast. Messages were carried on horseback across the prairies, plains, deserts, and mountains of the western United States. It briefly brought the Atlantic and Pacific coasts ten days nearer to each other.

The first successful Pony Express run from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California started on April 3, 1860 and was completed on April 13.

The Pony Express actually began as a "publicity stunt", in hopes of winning the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company (COC&PP), and it had a brief existence of only sixteen months before being supplanted by the transcontinental telegraph.

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Pony_express.jpg
Frank E. Webner, pony express rider, ca. 1861

Pony Express stations were placed at intervals of about 10 miles (16 km) along the route (this is about as far as a horse can go at a gallop). The rider changed to a fresh horse at each station, taking only the mail pouch (called a mochila) with him. The mochila was thrown over the saddle and held in place by the weight of the rider sitting on it. Each corner had a cantina, or pocket. Bundles of mail were placed in these cantinas, which were padlocked for safety. The mochila could hold 20 pounds (10 kg) of mail along with the 20 pounds of material carried on the horse, allowing for a total of 165 pounds on the horse's back. Riders were changed about every 100 miles (160 km).

The Pony Express demonstrated that a unified transcontinental system could be built and operated continuously the year around - something that had previously been regarded as impossible. For its brief time, the Pony Express was the most regular and predictable mail service using overland travel.

Since its replacement by the First Transcontinental Railroad and the telegraph, the Pony Express has entered the romance of the American West. Its reliance on the ability and endurance of the individual riders and horses over technological innovation is part of American rugged individualism.


Reference

  • Bradley, Glenn D. The Story of the Pony Express: An Account of the Most Remarkable Mail Service Ever in Existence, and Its Place in History. Project Gutenberg Release #4671 (Available Online) (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=4671)

External links

it:Pony Express nl:Pony Express no:Pony-ekspressen

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