Pony Express

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The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierras from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, from April 3, 1860 to October 1861. It became the west's most direct means of east-west communication before the telegraph and was vital for tying California closely with the Union just before the American Civil War.

The Pony Express was a mail delivery system of the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company of 1849 which in 1850 became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. This firm was founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell.[1]

Patee House served as the Pony Express headquarters from 1860 to 1861. It is one block away from the home of infamous outlaw Jesse James, where he was shot and killed by Robert Ford. After his murder, Jesse James' family took up lodging at this hotel and were interviewed by newspapermen of the time during their stay there.[2]

This original fast mail 'Pony Express' service had messages carried by horseback riders in relays to stations across the prairies, plains, deserts, and mountains of the Western United States. For its 18 months of operation, it briefly reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about ten days, with telegraphic communication covering about half the distance across the continent and mounted couriers the rest.[3]


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