Friday, January 31, 2014

100th anniversary of the Pony Express

U.S. 1960 4¢ Pony Express Centennial commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Pony Express. Now a famous chapter in the lore of the Old West, the Pony Express was a high-speed (for the time) mail service from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. These two covers were released simultaneously from these two cities with a lot of fanfare. The Pony Express
used relays of men and horses to deliver mail in less than half the time required by other delivery methods. The Express operated for a year and a half – until the opening of the transcontinental telegraph made it unnecessary. Despite its fame, the Pony Express was a financial failure. An estimated 400 horses were used during the company’s operation. Riders typically rode stretches of 80 to 100 miles at a time, changing horses about every 10 miles at stations along the route.
The Pony Express was a mail service delivered messages, newspapers, mail, even small packages across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada by horseback, using a series of relay stations. During its 18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860, to October 1861, it became the West's most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the country. The Pony Express was a mail-delivery system of the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express Company of 1859, which in 1860 became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. This firm was founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell all of whom were notable in the freighting business.
Thank you Merja for this important piece of postal history.

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