Heather

The Pony Express
By
Heather Ashcraft

The Pony Express was provided for the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The other reason was for a publicity stunt. The Pony Express took place on April 3, 1860 it officially ceased on October 26, 1861 it lasted 19 months. William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell were the founders of the Pony Express. Alexander Majors was also the director of Personnel. The Pony Express was not the first time that mail was carried by horseback. The Pony Express ran day or night, summer or winter. It ran through 2 states California and Missouri. At that time the other states were territories. It ran through a portion of the Oregon Trail. There are 183 men known to have ridden for the Pony Express during the 19 months. A famous explorer Sir Richard Burton was important to the history of the Pony Express because he gave an eyewitness account of many of the Pony Express stations.

If you wanted to work for the Pony Express they wanted you to be skinny, young, and wirey. They also didnít want you to be over 18. They did want an expert rider and willing to risk their life. They mostly wanted orphans. Most of the riders were around 20. The youngest was 11. The oldest was in his mid 40ís. Not many orphans rode on the Pony Express. They usually weighed around 120 pounds. They got paid $100.00 per month. The riders armed themselves with a Spencer carbine that was carried strapped to the riderís back, there also was a sheath knife at his side. In the saddle holsters the rider carried a pair of coltís revolvers. The first westbound rider was Johnny Fry. He was from St. Joseph, Missouri. Billy Hamilton was the first eastbound driver from Sacramento, California. The primary home for the Pony Express, was the Twelve Mile House also known as the "The Hall" now it is called Sportsman Hall. New riders took over every 75 to 100 miles. A rider got a new horse every 10-15 miles. It usually took 8 to 9 days to cover the full route. It took mail at least a month by boat and when carried by stagecoach it took 24 days.

The mail was carried in a mochila which is a spanish word for knapsack. It was used to keep there letters in for the travel. It was a rectangular leather blanket-type device designed to fit securely over the saddle. The Pony Express was not credited for demonstrating that using horse and rider was a financially profitable way to carry the mail. When the Pony Express first started the cost was 5.00 per Ĺ ounce, then it dropped to 1.00 per Ĺ ounce. The riders had 2 minutes to exchange horses. The horses traveled an average of about 10 miles per hour. Horses were purchased to stock the Pony Express route. Thoroughbreds, Mustangs, Pintos, and Morgans were often used. Through their route there was approximately 165 stations. They traveled almost 2,000 miles.

The schedule was April 3 to mid June 1860 and twice a week from mid June to late October in 1861. They also traveled once a week both east and west. They also rode 10 days in the summer and 12 to 16 days in the winter. The fastest delivery was 7 days and 17 hours between telegraph lines. The longest ride was driven by Bob Haslam he rode 370 miles.

The name of the locomotive that carried the first west-bound mail for the Pony Express was named Missouri. The Pony Express records containing information about the riders when it was in operation have never been found. The spirit and memory of the Pony Express is kept alive by the National Pony Express Association.

Submitted by Heather Ashcraft
(She received an A+ for this report)
Concho, Arizona
March 1998