The Pony Express

By | January 8, 2019

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An American Pony Express, en route from the Missouri River to San Francisco, chased by Indians, from a drawing by G H Andrews, illustration from the magazine The Illustrated London News, volume XXXIX, October 12, 1861. Source: (

By the 1850s, with so many people migrating to the west, the need for reliable communication grew. Stagecoaches had been the only means of delivering mail or packages but it was very slow. Sometimes ships could deliver to the west coast, but they had to travel around South America. The beginning of the Civil War was the catalyst for a quicker system.

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The Wells Fargo Stagecoach Company was one of the first mail delivery services. Source: (

Pony Express Beginning

It is tough to nail down exactly who first thought of the Pony Express. There had been other times in history that used horse relays to send messages. Genghis Khan had been known to use this method. There were at least two bills introduced to Congress to begin a weekly mail service but both failed. Eventually, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company was founded by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell. They signed a contract with the U.S. government to provide the delivery service. The main office was located in Missouri.