The adage of The US Mail is “Neither Rain or Sleet shall deter us on our appointed Rounds” was never more realized than with the short lived Organization known as The Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Overland Express Company, better known to History as "The Pony Express". The Organization was tasked with moving the Mail through hostile and dangerous Territories, from The East to West Coast of The United States.
Before the advent of The Transcontinental Railway, Ships were used to transport Mail from one Coast to another. The tedious and long trip involved Sailing down the Eastern US Coast, down the entirety of South America, around and up against to The California Coast. Such a journey could take up to 4-months.
The Pony Express was established in 1859. The task was to use Riders on Horses and travel overland from The Midwest to Arizona and California. Such a trip was fraught with perils. Outlaws and hostile Native Americans were eager to rob or kill a Rider. The Express was quite specific in it’s recruitment of Riders. Young and unmarried Males, they also had to meet a weight requirement of no more that 150-pounds. The lighter a Rider, the lighter than load and the more Mail weight that could be carried. Horses were chosen for their speed and robustness.
Typically, a Rider carried no monies, but 10-pound Saddle Bags (as many as 4). Special “Way Stations” were established every 25-miles, to provide fresh mounts, water or food. Normally, no more that 15-minutes were spent there before the “run” recommenced. A Rider had to make 25-miles a day (sometimes more). It was estimated to take 7 to 10-days to reach The West Coast. Riders carried Pistol or Repeating Rifle for protection, and many “running” Hunts battles were fought. Many made it through, others did not and were never heard from again.
Courage and speed was their watch word. Despite their success, the impending Rail Lines and The American Civil War played a part in their demise . Perhaps no other invention ended The Pony Express than the establishment of Coast to Coast Telegraphs by 1860. After The War in 1865, plans to revitalize Express were dashed with the completion of The Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.