The Pony Express, an icon of America’s Old West, took it’s final run on October 26th, 1861.
As the United States quickly expanded west in the mid-1800’s the need for for fast mail service became apparent. The population was migrating west in large numbers thanks to the Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail and the Mormon exodus.
In 1860 the need for fast mail service was answered by the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company, later to be know as the Pony Express. The Pony Express was able to transport mail more than 1,800 miles in 10 days from Missouri to Sacramento, California providing a service faster than any other option at the time.
Skilled riders familiar with the rugged western terrain where hired to run the routes and earned a wage of $50 per month.
Just 10 short weeks after the Express’ first run Congress passed a bill authorizing the construction of the final segment of the transcontinental telegraph line connecting the mid-west to the Pacific coast. 16 months later on October 26th, 1861 New York and San Francisco became directly connected via telegraph and operations of the Pony Express were terminated.
Although the vast majority of the routes have disappeared over time, some small sections of the original trail can still be seen in California and Utah. Dozens of historical markers now stand where Pony Express stations once stood.
Source: National Parks Service