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The Pony Express

painting of a man on a horse

On April 3, 1860, riders began a relay message service between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California. Could the lively crowds that cheered those first riders off on their journey have imagined that decades later this relatively short-lived service would become a lively piece of American popular culture? While the Pony Express itself ended 18 months after its energetic start, its story lived on through wild west shows, dime novels, and movies.




Tales of the Pony Express: A Letter from Lincoln- book cover with a man on a horse

Remember the Pony 

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.


photo of a saddle

Object of the Month: Mochila

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.


illustration of a man on a horse

Pony Express: Romance versus Reality 

The legendary name of the Pony Express calls up thrilling images of horse and rider racing across treacherous terrain. Yet the actual Pony Express lasted for less than two years (April 1860 to October 1861) and was only one of a number of private express services that used riders to carry the mail.


envelope with elegant script

Pony Express Mail

The transcontinental Pony Express operated a ten-day mail route between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, using pony relays. Because it operated for only nineteen months, not much surviving mail is known. A census of known Pony Express covers published in 2005 included only 180 eastbound and seventy-one westbound covers.


Moving the Mail West 

Primary sources and secondary sources come together in this web curriculum and game to teach the history of communication in the American West. Combine website interactives, online collections, interdisciplinary lesson plans, and flash-based webgame to inspire your students to become active in their historical study of the Pony Express.


photo of an elderly woman

The Pony Express Diamond Jubilee: Revisiting the Excitement of the 1935 Re-ride - Video 

April 10, 2010 - During the Great Depression, the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Pony Express captivated public attention. Boy Scouts carried mail along the trail route and presented it to President Roosevelt, who said This is something fine to add to my stamp collection. This lecture includes photographs and film clips from the Howard R. Driggs Archive at Southern Utah University that capture the excitement of the historic rerun. Driggs, a historian, was president of the Oregon Trail Memorial Association, which sponsored the Diamond Jubilee. Today's speaker Camille Bradford, an attorney in Denver, Colorado, is the stepdaughter of Howard R. Driggs and founder of the Howard R. Driggs Memorial Foundation.


photo of a man dressed as a cowboy

The Pony Express Keeps Delivering - Video 

April 14, 2010 - The Pony Express may be 150 years old, but the celebration continues! Speakers from the National Pony Express Association, Inc. discuss how they honor the Pony Express today. Find out about the 1983 Slide Ride when members of the organization saddled up to ride the mail between two California towns made inaccessible by an avalanche, the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay Ride, and other stories from the trail.


EnRoute- red text on a blue background

The Story Of The Pony Express

Written by Postal Historian Nancy A. Pope this article appeared in EnRoute, the National Postal Museum's magazine, in April 1992.


painting of a man on a horse

Pony Express Computer Screen Wallpaper

Western Mounted Mail Carrier, Pony Express. A painting by Lloyd Branson (1853-1925). Dimensions of actual painting: approximately 6 x 8 feet. Painted in 1904.


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