Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Birthday of the Pony Express

Happy Birthday - Pony Express!

The Pony Express began on April 3, 1860 and ended in October 1861, only 18 months in existence.  A short time when you think of all the Western movies and books that have been produced and written on the subject.

The Pony Express started in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. Letters were sent under cover from the East to St. Joseph and never directly entered the U.S. Mail system. That mail and others were carried from St. Joseph by relays of men riding horses, carrying saddlebag, across the 2000-mile trail. The riders followed the Oregon Trail and the California Trail to Fort Bridges in Wyoming. They crossed the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and High Sierras to Sacramento, California. The trip took 10 days.

The Pony Express to California was vital for tying California closely with the Union just before the Civil War. At the same time, beginning on April 3, 1860, the Pony Express went Eastbound from San Francisco and arriving 10 days later in St. Joseph, Missouri. The cost of a letter was $5 per ½ ounce, an exorbitant price for those days. By the end, the price had dropped to $1.00 per ½ ounce. There are very few examples of surviving Pony Express mail today. One bit of information I found said there were approximately 250 known letters held mostly by collectors and museums.

Now you know all you need to know about the Pony Express. I hope you will express your happy birthday wishes today to the Pony Express.  

P.S. Many of you probably know all about the Pony Express, but do you know the story of the Bare Foot Mailman?  I do and I’ll write about it soon. Stay tuned.

By Lois Jamieson

If you enjoyed these fun and inspiring Kids Without Stuff holiday facts, you’ll want to read:

Be sure to sign up for our FREE Kids Without Stuff eNewsletter, filled with more inspirational stories, motivating thoughts and fun facts!