Pony Express

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Pony Express

The Pony Express was in operation only from April 3, 1860, to Oct. 26, 1861. It was never part of the U.S. Postal Service.

* | Tags: People USPS Fact #385 | March 4, 2021

That’s no pony, that’s a big horse

The official name for the “Pony Express” was the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Co. Before they were hired, riders had to swear on a Bible not to curse, fight or abuse their animals. Orphans were preferred. The service was in operation only from April 3, 1860, to Oct. 26, 1861. It operated as a U.S. Mail route during its final 4 months.

On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for speedy mail delivery. The Pony Express was by far the most effective way to communicate cross-country—until the telegraph came along. After 18 months in operation, the system was shuttered on October 26, 1861, and the last remaining mail was delivered.

The Pony Express National Historic Trail was designated to preserve the story and routes of this nationally significant trail and to support the associated sites that preserve its history. Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/poex