TDIH: The Pony Express Begins It's Short, But Memorable, Existence

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The Surprisingly Short History of the Pony Express

Given that most have still heard of the Pony Express today, unlike so many other messaging companies long gone, you may think that the Pony Express was once an integral part of communication between the East and West in the United States. It turns out, this was never the case and the Pony Express was around only for an extremely short amount of time.

The image of the Pony Express rider flying over the prairies, mountains, and deserts of the Old West has always occupied a legendary and nostalgic place in American history, though its actual existence only encompassed about a year and a half. Officially beginning operations on April 3, 1860, it was technically the first coast-to-coast rapid delivery service, mainly to support post-Gold Rush California and it's growing population, and cutting mail delivery times from a month or more to 10 days.

Until then, and long before the Interstate Highway System, and even the transcontinental railroad, mail traveled by stagecoach, puttering along the Butterfield Express overland route, over the recently completed Panama Railway, or by slow-boat, taking the long way around.

This being the days before telephones, radio, or any other speedy communication to the young state of California, from Missouri to California, over 150 individual relay stations were established The Pony Express Company, to switch out horses every 10-15 miles, and riders every 75-100. Previously California was mostly separated from the rest of the U.S. by 1,800 miles of mostly unsettled and uninhabited land. Wild West icon William Cody (Buffalo Bill) was one of the better-known young riders for the Pony Express.

By October, 1861, the Pony Express was rendered obsolete, upon the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line. Being fairly expensive, the service had not yet turned a profit, as the company was hoping to land a government contract to deliver mail, which never materialized. Regular snail mail continued its snailiness until the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869.

Incidentally, the first recorded instance of electronic spam was recorded in London in June, 1864, and addressed in a letter the the editor of The Times:


Sir, -- On my arrival home late yesterday evening a "telegram," by "London District Telegraph," addressed in full to me, was put in my hands. It was as follows: --

"Messrs. Gabriel, dentists, 27, Harley-street, Cavendish-square. Until October Messrs. Gabriel's professional attendance at 27, Harley-street, will be 10 till 5."

I have never had any dealings with Messrs. Gabriel, and beg to ask by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is evidently simply the medium of advertisement? A word from you would, I feel sure, put a stop to this intolerable nuisance. I enclose the telegram, and am,

Your faithful servant,

Upper Grosvenor-street, May 30. M. P.

External Links:

History - 1860 Pony Express debuts

Wikipedia - The Pony Express

Telegraph Spam


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Operating While Intoxicated

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