Pony Express Trail (1860 - Sesquicentennial - 2010)
Original Date Visited: 3/31/11
One hundred and fifty years ago, the Pony Express was founded by W. H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell, operators of the Overland Stage Line of Leavenworth, Kansas. During a visit to Washington, Mr. Russell was urged by California Senator William Gwin to expand the Overland Stage operation to facilitate faster mail service. Mr. Russell's partners hesitated due to the projected high costs; he persevered and the first ride began on April 3, 1860.
Overland stagecoach stations were located every 10-12 miles as far as Salt Lake City. Eighty skilled and experienced riders, 400 horses and approximately one hundred-eighty-four stations were located in Nevada from Utah (Deep Creek) to the California border (Genoa). The swift riders carried the mail 2,000 miles in 10 days from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The "Pony" improved nationwide communication, western expansion and was credited with California's continued participation in the Union at the beginning of the Civil War.
A high price was paid for the improved communication, including the cost to post a letter and the trials of the employees during the ride. The cost of mailing a letter as advertised was not economical, "letters less than 1/4 oz cost $2.50; over 1/4 oz, not to exceed 1/2 oz cost $5.00 and so on." The riders, station masters and division agents faced hostile environments including poor housing, extreme heat and cold, poor access to potable water, food and dangers due to the conflicts between the Tribes and the new comers to the west.
On October 24, 1861, the telegraph was born and the last ride was completed. What had taken ten days could be achieved in ten seconds thus ending the Pony Express but the memory of the riders and the route live on.
This is the first and only historic marker I've ever celebrated that came with cake.
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