The Pony Express

In the middle of the 19th century, people in the United States had a very big problem. It took a very long time – sometimes weeks or months – for mail to arrive. This made it very difficult to do business or to communicate with family in an emergency. In 1860, three businessmen had a solution. They started a new company. They promised that they could deliver any sort of mail in 10 days. They called their company “The Pony Express”.

The Pony Express was much faster than the United States Postal Service. The deliverymen men rode horses (so they were usually called “riders) but the United States Postal Service did not. Pony Express riders also used a “relay” system across the country. A rider would take their letters to a relay station where another rider waited. He would then give his letters or packages to the next rider and they would go to the next relay station and repeat this. It was a very efficient way of delivering mail.

For its time, The Pony Express was very unique. No other businesses used such a delivery system. It covered 2000 miles between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. There were 184 relay stations and over 500 horses. The deliverymen of the Pony Express rode over difficult terrain like high mountains, hot deserts, and snow-covered plains. Over the years, the telegraph spread throughout the United States. It was much faster and less expensive to send a telegraph.  The Pony Express was closed and sold in 1866 for about $1.5 million.

Did you enjoy the lesson? If you did, why not take a look at this one on Presidents Day or this one about The Titanic?