October 26, 1861: The Pony Express ceases operations.

This short-lived mail service was once the fastest and most direct form of communication between the eastern and western portions of the United States. Founded in 1860, it tied the more organized Midwest to California, with its burgeoning population, on the eve of Civil War. The Pony Express was the pinnacle of practicality and speed in communication at the time; riders of the Pony Express travelled from Missouri to California by crossing the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the Sierra Nevada (a distance of nearly 2,000 miles) in just ten days. Some messages were relayed even faster - for example, in November 1860, news of Abraham Lincoln’s election reached California from Nebraska in five days.

Such a feat was said to be impossible. It wasn’t, of course, but still, riders had to be skilled to carry out this incredibly strenuous, demanding work (“Buffalo Bill” Cody was one such rider). One famous ad seeking prospective riders reportedly read: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." Because of the risks and high demand involved in the employment, riders were payed the generous sum of a hundred dollars a month. Those who found themselves in the employment of the Pony Express soon found themselves out of work, however; on October 24, 1861, the east and west coasts of the United States were finally linked by telegraph, almost immediately rendering horseback mail service obsolete.¬†Although the Pony Express closed after a little over a year of service, it and the men who rode for it were heavily romanticized as some of the many iconic pieces of the mythic Old West.¬†

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    Nice post about pony express. In Mongolia we established such a courier system back in 1200s.
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    Such a feat was said to be impossible. It wasn’t, of course, but still, riders had to be skilled to carry out this...
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