Remember the Pony

refer to caption

4-cent Pony Express stamp

Virtual Exhibit

A Man, a Horse, and a Letter

refer to caption
Pony Express Rider, oil painting by Lloyd Branson (1853-1925)

The words "Pony Express" evoke colorful images in our minds of brave riders dashing over mountains or across deserts of the great American West with vital messages. For a short-lived (18-months) service that took place 150 years ago, the Pony Express is remarkably well ingrained in our collective memory.

Our instant recognition of the name, and ability to pull up colorful and dramatic images of the service at work are courtesy of decades of dramatic recreations in books and comics; film and television.

The Pony Express service (1860-1861) underwent a revival in the late 19th century. It was well known, even internationally recognized, during its existence. But that attention would be short-lived. Before the service ended, the American Civil War had begun. While occasional news bosted of a spectacularly brave or fast ride, for the most part the Pony Express was fading into obscurity by the time of the last runs in the fall of 1861.

Created by Curator Nancy A. Pope, National Postal Museum