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Depiction of the construction of the first Transcontinental Telegraph, with a Pony Express rider passing below.

Source: Wikipedia.

March 1861: The Pony Express reduces its route from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sacramento, California


When Cooper County mail, that was headed west by stage coach, reached Saint Joe, Missouri, it would be picked up at the Pony Express office by one of the 80 riders, and start on a 2,000-mile wild ride by horseback to the next station. The mail and newspapers would reach San Francisco in 10 days. By stage coach, the same trip would take three weeks!


There were 153 Stations, some in hotels and some in shacks. The rider would ride 10 to 15 miles before changing horses and then continue his ride to the next station and a new horse. Five hundred horses were used for each round trip. 

The ride was not comfortable for the rider or the horse. Bad weather, rough terrain and Indians were constant threats.


Ad in the Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860 “Men Wanted"

The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and found.”


On June 16, 1860, about ten weeks after the Pony Express began operations, Congress authorized a bill instructing the Secretary of the Treasury to subsidize the building of a transcontinental telegraph line to connect the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast.

The passage of the bill resulted in the incorporation of the Overland Telegraph Company of California and the Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska. While the lines were under construction the Pony Express operated as usual. Letters and newspapers were carried the entire length of the line from St. Joseph to Sacramento, but telegrams were carried only between the rapidly advancing wire ends.

On October 26, 1861, San Francisco was in direct contact with New York City. On that day the Pony Express was officially terminated, but it was not until November that the last letters completed their journey over the route.

In June, 1860 Congress authorized the incorporation off the Overland Telegraph Company of California and Pacific Company of Nebraska.


The Pony Express lasted only 19 months from April 1860 to October 1861, but it successfully connected the East to the West in record time.



Adapted from National Geographic

National Park Service

National Historic Trail

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