As the American Civil War approached, and as California’s population was booming after the Gold Rush, the country was in need of a way to speed up communication between the east and west coasts.
Send in the ponies!
On the evening of April 3, 1860, the Pony Express set off on its debut horseback ride headed west from St. Joseph, Missouri. The rider and his cargo, a carefully packed mailbag (known as a mochila), arrived in Sacramento, California a little over a week later.
According to History.com, in its 18-month lifespan, the Pony Express Company, set up over 150 relay stations between Missouri and California, and cut the average mail delivery time from a month (via ship or stagecoach) to just 10 days.
Probably the most famous Express ride was the one to deliver Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address to California, in April 1861. Robert Haslam, known as Pony Bob, rode 13 mustangs on his 120-mile run, part of which was through dangerous Paiute Indian territory. Despite being pierced in the arm and struck in the jaw by one of their “flint-tipped arrows,” Pony Bob completed his leg of the trek in record time.
As I sit here in Chandler, Arizona – with a click of my mouse, this edition of The Pager will grace your inbox in a matter of minutes, whether you are in California, Massachusetts or somewhere in between (like St. Joseph, Missouri)!
There is no question that we have come a long way since that day in 1860. However, the Pony Express was a gateway for ingenuity in the communication field. Today, delivery services are constantly finding new ways to overnight, expedite, and [insert another -ite word here].
It wouldn’t be far off to suggest that one day the role of humans in mail delivery will be drastically different, if not eliminated entirely. Drones and robots have already infiltrated the system in places like Switzerland. And the much anticipated Prime Air by Amazon promises to drone-deliver packages in 30 minutes or less.
I appreciate the advancement of technology, but there is something more magical about ponies galloping across the Wild West, than flying robot spiders buzzing around.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Pager. If you have any comments or maybe some ideas for future newsletters, let us know!