Immediately California became a state in 1850 there were calls to improve communications with the east. It took a month to round the horn and mail ships departed monthly. This improved when the railroad was built accross Panama, cutting the time to 21 days. Still, this was considered too long.
The problem was solved when a canal was built connecting the headwaters of the Missouri River to those of the Snake River.
Seriously, the first solution was the Pony Express (1860), the second solution was the transcontinental telegraph (1861) and the third was the railroad (1869).
To maintain the rigid schedule, relay stations were located from 5 to 20 miles apart. At each Swing Station riders would exchange their tired mounts for fresh ones, while Home Stations housed the riders between runs. This technique allowed the mail to be whisked across the continent in record time. Each rider rode about 75 miles per day.
The route varied locally during the 19-1/2 months of operation. Not all of the stations listed below were used all of the time. Some were either substituted or added at various times.
Cottonwood (or Hollenberg's Ranch)
Willow Island Ranch
Junction House Ranch
O'Fallons' Bluff (or Halfway House)
Ward's (Or Central Star)
Box Elder Creek
Platte Bridge (Casper)
Quaking Asp Creek
Quaking Asp Springs
Big Canyon Creek
Salt Lake City
Camp Floyd (Later, Fort Crittenden)
Egan's Springs (Or Simpson's Springs or Lost Springs)
Sink of the Carson
Williams Station (Or Honey Lake Smith's)
January 1860: William H. Russell and U.S. Senator William M. Gwen meet to discuss establishing a 10-day mail service to California. Russell then met with Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell, to form the Pony Express.
March 1860: First ad placed for riders.
April 3, 1860: Pony Express begins operations with the first rider (Johnny Frey) leaving from St. Joseph, Missouri.
April 3, 1860:James Randall carries the first eastbound Pony Express mail from the Alta Telegraph Company, Montgomery Street, to the San Francisco wharf where it is placed on the steamer "New World" for transport to Sacramento.
April 4, 1860: First eastbound run (rider Sam Hamilton) by the Pony Express leaves Sacramento, California, at 2:45 a.m.
April 13, 1860: First Eastern mail arrives in Sacramento (rider Sam Hamilton).
April 23, 1860: First westbound mail to be routed overland between Sacramento and Oakland arrives in Benicia, California. Rider Sam Hamilton delivered the mochila to Thomas Bedford who carried the mail on to Oakland.
October 18, 1861: Westward building crew of the transcontinental telegraph project, under the direction of Edward Creighton, arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 24, 1861: Eastward building crew of the transcontinental telegraph project, under the direction of James Gamble, arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 26, 1861: Pony Express officially ceased operations.
November 21, 1861: Last run of the Pony Express completed.
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