1860: Pony Express Begins Operations
On this date in 1860, the Pony Express began operations.
Here are some things you may not have known about the Old West mail service.
After the discovery of gold in 1849 and the admission of California as a state in 1850, a faster way to deliver transcontinental mail was needed. At the time, mail could take up to a month to travel from coast to coast.
The Pony Express was founded with the goal of cutting that time to 10 days between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California. The goal was thought impossible by many.
The Pony Express system involved a series of horseback riders traveling relatively short distances at high speeds.
When the system started it employed 120 riders on 400 horses going between 184 stations manned by more than 400 support personnel.
The identity of the first rider is in dispute. Depending on the source it was either Billy Richardson or Johnny Fry who departed St. Joseph, Missouri.
The first run took 11 days to reach San Francisco. The cost to send a letter via the Pony Express was originally five dollars per half ounce. The equivalent of about $120 per half ounce today.
Gradually, as telegraph service expanded across the country, The Pony Express route was shortened. News of Abraham Lincoln’s election as president of the United States in 1860 was able to be transmitted to the West Coast in just seven days, thanks to the Pony Express and the expansion of telegraph service to Fort Kearny, Nebraska.
Less than a year after service started, the route ran from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, spanning the final gap in telegraph service.
The service ceased on October 26, 1861, two days after the first transcontinental telegraph line was completed at Salt Lake City.
The operation never made money, losing $110,000 over the course of the 19-month run.
Our question, what’s the fastest speed recorded by a horse?
Today is unofficially National Chocolate Mousse Day, National Sweet Potato Day, and Armenian Appreciation Day.
It’s the birthday of actress Doris Day, who is 95; astronaut Gus Grissom, who was born in 1926; and singer Wayne Newton, who is 75.
Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.
This week in 1973, the top song in the U.S. was “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence.
The No. 1 movie was “Charlotte’s Web,” while the novel “The Odessa File” by Frederick Forsyth topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.
Weekly question: What is the second fastest land mammal?
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