On This Day

Pony Express

San Francisco Pony Express to New York cover
San Francisco Pony Express to New York cover

Historical Context

Although the American Pony Express only lasted for 18 months it played a significant part linking the American West and the East coasts. Initially it ran between California and Missouri starting in April 1860 before being extended, it's establishment and growth prompted by the discovery of gold in California and by the approaching American civil war.

Expensive to run, the service was eventually made bankrupt and replaced in 1861 by the transcontinental telegraph. Over time it has become interwoven into the folklore of the American West an its aims and hardships have become legend. Its most famous rider was probably Buffalo Bill, real name William Cody, who joined the service as a 15 year old.

Document Info

Location signed: Washington, D.C., USA

Source: National Postal Museum

Related Events

  • 1860-04-03 Pony Express began between St Joseph, Missouri & Sacramento, California
  • 1860-04-13 1st Pony Express reaches Sacramento, California
  • 1860-04-14 1st Pony Express rider arrives in San Francisco from St Joseph, Missouri
  • 1861-07-03 Pony Express arrives in San Francisco with overland letters from NY
  • 1861-10-26 Pony Express (Missouri to California) ends after 19 months

Historical Documents