Lightning Fast: The Story of the Pony Express

Uploaded by wellsfargo on 13.04.2010

During a time when stagecoaches carried Wells Fargo Treasure, a rider and his horse emerged
to become an American legend. From April 1860-October 1861 daring pony express riders and their
noble steeds carried mail 1,966 miles across Missouri and California, racing across Kansas,
Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming Utah and Nevada. This bold idea was the brainchild of businessmen
Russell, Majors, and Wyddell. They established the Central Overland California and Pikes
Peak Express Company to prove that mail carried by horse and rider could deliver important
letters and business communication faster. Mail carried by horseback relay could be delivered
in 10 days while mail by stagecoach took twice as long. To stock relay stations every 12
miles, 500 horses were purchased, over 200 men hired, and stations built where there
were no existing stage stops. But the pony express meant more than just faster letter
delivery. Pony service connected citizens in the west with events in the east at a time
when civil war was pulling the nation apart. Pony riders brought news of Abraham Lincoln’s
election and of first shots fired on fort Sumpter, marking the start of the civil war.
One San Francisco newspaper editor described the important of the pony Express to to Westerners
in those troubled times. One by one the chains of darkness and desert are broken and we are
brought nearer and nearer to our bretheren on the other side of the continent. The Pony
Express never achieved a profit for its founders. In April 1861 W.H. Russell transferred ownership
and control to Wells Fargo and Company west of Salt Lake City. And Wells Fargo reduced
postage rates immediately. But new technologies were about to overtake even the swift riders
of the Pony Express. When the new transcontinental telegraph was completed in October, 1861 making
communications near instantaneous, the Pony Express was no longer needed. The story of
the Pony Express has been told many times in film and in literature. The legend of the
Pony Express and myths surrounding it have contributed to its enduring role as a central
character in America’s frontier story. For 19 months dashing pony express riders carried
35,000 letters across the frontier. Wells Fargo is proud to have played a part in operating
this larger than life Western legend.