Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26 - The Pony Express

On October 26, 1861, the Pony Express ceased operating between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, two days after the transcontinental telegraph reached Salt Lake City to complete a connection between Omaha, Nebraska, and Sacramento. The mail delivery system, originally part of an express freight company, carried messages, mail, newspapers and small packages, much of which originated from the East coast. The need for fast mail service beyond the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada was hastened by westward migration on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s, then the 1849 Gold Rush. Horses of the Pony Express raced between more than 150 relay stations for a period of only 18 months, starting in April 1860. Riders earned $25 a week at a time when unskilled labor was paid between 43 cents and $1 a day. They covered more than 1,800 miles, delivering mail in an advertised “10 days to San Francisco!” Today nearly all of the express trail has disappeared, although short segments, open to guesswork, can be seen in Utah and California.

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