Riders on the Pony Express earned $100 a month, which was a good wage at the time. They put forth a lot of effort, cycling in severe weather, harsh terrain, and perilous scenarios. Riders have to weigh fewer than 125 pounds to limit the weight carried by the horses to a minimum. This allowed them to travel longer distances without having to stop to rest the horses.
Pony Express riders delivered letters between 1851 and 1860. The service was operated by the United States Post Office Department and was intended to provide mail delivery to areas of the country where there were no other means of communication. The first riders arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri, on May 10, 1852, and they delivered their first letter the next day. By the end of its first year, the Pony Express had covered more than 100 miles of track between Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California. However, due to financial difficulties caused by the expensive mode of transportation used by the service, along with attacks by Indians, it ended its operation after only three years.
In conclusion, the Pony Express was a carrier service that used horseback riding as a means of transportation for letters between Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California. The riders weighed less than 125 pounds to limit the weight carried by the horses to a minimum so they could travel farther without having to stop to rest.
The path passed through the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and eventually into California. The post office hired out horses to anyone who could afford them.
Express riders worked between two points designated by the postmaster-general. The route took about one week to complete the 1,800-mile journey from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. Mail was delivered in person or via carrier pigeon depending on the location. In 1872, the year of its demise, the Pony Express carried nearly 7 million pieces of mail across America.
The Pony Express was a success for several years but was unable to compete with the railroads it helped develop. It ceased operations in 1860. However, it has been said that the term "pony up" comes from the Pony Express. This means to raise funds quickly so that they can be received by their destination in time for an important date.
The mail delivery service started up again in 1898 when President William McKinley was assassinated. He was transported back to Washington, D.C., in time for the funeral. The last ride was on May 2, 1861, when Thomas J. Fennell was killed while delivering mail near Eagle Pass, Texas. The job was taken over by the Army after that date.
The riders were paid $25 each week, which was a lot of money back then. Each carried a rifle, a waterbag, and the mail in a pouch meant to last even if the horse and rider did not. Riders switched to a different horse at each station and handed over the reins to a new rider every 75 to 100 kilometers. The average distance between stations was about 150 miles (240 km).
There are no accurate figures available for how many people the Pony Express served or how much it cost, but estimates range from 1 million to 4 million letters per year. The express ran from May 28, 1860, until December 3, 1866. It was based in St. Joseph, Missouri, but also had offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
The first riders were veterans of the Mexican-American War who were hired out of military service at $500 a month. Within a few months, however, the price of horses had dropped to $15 each, and the number of riders had increased so much that the postmasters decided to hire more people rather than increase their wages. By the end of its first year, 80 percent of the riders were non-professional people who worked for the postoffice because they needed the money and because the job required only a short training period.
In total, there were approximately 500 men working for the Pony Express, most of whom were young adults from 19 to 30 years old.
Between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, a Pony Express rider traverses hazardous territory. The Pony Express riders faced brutal weather, tough terrain, and the fear of bandit and Indian attacks, but life may have been even more hazardous for the stock keepers who staffed the rest stops. Stock thieves often stole their horses, so the only means of defense against these bandits was a gun.
The biggest threat to Pony Express riders was actually not from outside forces but rather from inside their own company. The riders were paid by the letter, so if they were injured or sick they could not work. This would cause them to fall behind on their payments to their stock owners, which in turn might force them to sell their own horses to cover their debts.
In addition, many riders used drugs and alcohol to help them deal with the stress of riding over 200 miles each week. If someone fell off their horse or had an accident on one of these routes there was no one to stop and help them because all the riders were too afraid that they would be next!
Finally, some riders took advantage of people who hired them as guards or escorts instead of paying them. They would often get drunk or high and then sleep it off at their posts. When they weren't watching their charges, these riders would be robbed or killed by outlaws.