California Pony Express
The History of the Pony Express
The Pony Express was a private mail service which operated between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The Pony Express began April 3, 1860, and it operated for only 18 months at which time the transcontinental telegraph began operation.
The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Co. provided a 10 day delivery between the terminal points. 40 riders in the saddle in each direction, 190 stations and 400 station keepers kept the operation working smoothly. Riders were paid $25.00 a week, and rode 10 -12 miles before changing horses, 75 miles before being relieved.
The Pony Express was started by the Missouri Freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell. It was a dramatic attempt to capture a proposed mail contract. Although it did not last very long, it provide the Central Route as an all-weather transportation route. It is remembered as one of the enduring symbols of the American Frontier.
The Pony Riders are gone now, but they are remembered for their daring and courage. Their exploits are retold even today in books, and recreation like the NPEA's Annual Re-Ride.
The National Pony Express Association was established in 1978 to "Re-establish, Identify and Re-Ride the Historical Pony Express Trail" every year.
What is a Mochila
The telegrams and letters transported by the Pony Express were carried in a mochila. This leather blanket-type device was designed to fit securely over a McClellan saddle, and be easily removed and placed on a fresh horse at the Relay Station. The letters were wrapped in a protective covering and carried in one of the four cantinas (pockets) sewn in each corner. The uses a mochila designed to carry a greater number of letters and to fit over a western saddle, yet can easily be transferred to a fresh horse at rider and mochila exchange points during the Re-Ride.