On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express mail riders, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously left St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for mail delivery.

Before the Pony Express a letter was delivered by ship or Butterfield Express, which could take from one to several months. So the ten day delivery was quite an improvement.

Unfortunately, as the Pony Express riders were riding east and west, they would come across men putting poles in the ground and stringing wire for the first transcontinental telegraph, which was completed in October 1861. With the transcontinental telegraph, there was no need for the Pony Express, and it ceased operations.

Filed under: Old West History

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