Although the Pony Express was only in operation for 18 months the exploits of its brave riders, including William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill", have become an important event in the legends of the Wild West.
The Pony Express Route
The Pony Express
The Reason the Pony Express was Established
Pony Express Mail Service
Pony Express Facts for kids: FAQ's
When was the Purpose of the Pony Express? Its purpose was to provide a fast mail service from the Atlantic coast in the east to the Pacific coast of California in the west
What did the Pony Express carry? Its riders carried mail, messages, newspapers and small parcels
Who started the Pony Express? The names of the three founders were William Russell, Alexander Importants and William Waddell
When did the Pony Express start? It started on April 3, 1860
When did the Pony Express end? The service only ran for 18 months and ended on October 24, 1861
Who were the Pony Express Riders? The job called for "Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders"
What was the Pony Express motto? The famous motto was "The mail must go through."
The Route: Where did the Pony Express start and where did it end? The route started from St. Joseph, Missouri and ended IN Sacramento, California
What were the Pony Express stations? The stations were relay points along the route where the riders would quickly change their horse for fresh steeds. Some relay stops were 'home stations'
Why did the Pony Express end? It ended when the Transcontinental Telegraph was completed
The Pony Express Riders: The 24/7 Service
Pony Express Facts for kids
Riders were given a uniform of red shirts and blue pants but these were often discarded and replaced with buckskins
Riders were kitted out with a pistol, a bugle, a rifle, gloves, boots and a Bible. As a rider approached a station he would blow his bugle, alerting the stocktender to prepare a fresh horse
Every rider had to take utmost care of the mochila (lightweight saddlebag) that contained the mail quick and efficient when transferring from one horse to another
The mail pockets of the mochila were called "cantinas", which were locked with a type of small padlock. The mochila had four locked compartments for the mail
Security: The only keys for the mail pockets of the mochila were at St. Joseph and Sacramento, and only the agents at each end could open the mochila
The rider had to swear an oath on the Bible promising honesty and devotion to duty
Each station employed two men who attended the horses
The rider could change horses in 2 minutes
The route had more than 100 stations, 80 riders and between 400-500 horses
The wages of the riders were $25 per week - the job paid well but their were many dangers
Dangers: The hazards and dangers included attacks from hostile Native Americans, robbers, extreme weather conditions, hazardous terrains
The name of the first rider was John Upson
During the 18 months it operated riders had covered 650,000 miles and carried 34,753 pieces of mail. Only one mail delivery was ever lost.
The mail service was under the direction of the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company.
Important items of news were spread by the service including the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 reached California via the Pony Express.
The mail service was very expensive (e.g., $1-$5 per half ounce)
Buffalo Bill: William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill", who later became famous for his Wild West Show, is the most well-known of all the riders and was said to have covered 384 miles without any real rest period
Wild Bill Hickok: Wild Bill Hickok was a friend of "Buffalo Bill" and worked as a stocktender for the Rock Creek Pony Express station
On May 9, 1860 Pony Bob Haslam made an historic run of 380 miles between Friday’s station and Smith’s Creek station. It was a brave run as Paiutes were attacking his part of the route, the Paiute uprising erupted in May 1860
The only rider to refuse to do a run was Johnson Richardson, because of the danger of the Paiutes
Wells Fargo became the temporary agent for the western route until the Overland Mail Company took over
Mail was first covered with oiled silk before being placed in the mail pockets "cantinas" so they wouldn’t be damaged by water or sweat
It was important to keep the weight on the horse down and the specially designed saddle with its mochila weighed less than 13 pounds
Riders had to weigh less than 125 lbs and their age ranged from 11 to the mid-40s
Youngest Rider: According to legend Bronco Charlie Miller was eleven years old when he first rode for the mail service
The Fastest Run: The Fastest Run was made in 7 days and 17 hours carrying news of President Lincoln's Inaugural Address
The founders of the service, William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Importants went bankrupt
The government contract had stipulated the service would be discontinued after the Overland Telegraph Company completed its construction of the telegraph line
Their company was sold at auction to Ben Holladay in March 1862. Four years later Holladay sold out to Wells Fargo for $2,000,000.
The regular service was discontinued in October 1861, when the Pacific Telegraph Company completed its line to San Francisco
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