Today in History


On this day, in 1860, the first delivery run of a new, fast mail service from St Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, took place.

This was known as the Pony Express, and until the advent of the telegraph, it was the most direct method of communication between the east and west coasts of the United States. ?The delivery of the mail from start to finish took about 10 days, with each rider covering about 75 miles a day.

The founders of the Pony Express were already in the freight business, servicing the expanding goldfields of California, including the mail, but needed a faster way of passing mail. ? By selecting a shorter route, and changing the method of transport from wagon to disptach rider, they were able to deliver the mail in record time.

The initial group of riders numbered some 120 young men, all of whom were paid the then substantial sum of $100.00 a month. ? The most famous of the riders was a 15 year old William Cody, who achieved some immortality as Buffalo Bill.

The Express ran for two years, but was eventually overcome by the telegraph, and by the failure of the founders to secure the government contracts that would have guaranteed the financial stability of the enterprise.