Pony Express

expert riders

The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierras from Missouri to California, founded in 1860. It became the west’s most direct means of east-west communication before the telegraph and was vital for tying California closely with the Union just before the American Civil War. Patee House (a historic hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri) served as the Pony Express headquarters from 1860 to 1861. It is one block away from the home of infamous outlaw Jesse James, where he was shot and killed by Robert Ford. After his murder, Jesse James’ family took up lodging at the hotel.

Messages were carried by horseback riders in relays to stations across the prairies, plains, deserts, and mountains of the Western United States. For its 18 months of operation, it briefly reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about ten days, with telegraphic communication covering about half the distance across the continent and mounted couriers the rest. The continued popularity of the Pony Express can be linked to Buffalo Bill Cody who claimed to have been an Express rider.

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