When I was a kid Cowboys were king. Westerns dominated movie and television screens. Cowboys even regularly appeared in comic books. Kids loved tales of the West. There were so many heroes and we knew their names. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Wild Bill Hickock just to name a few.
What’s interesting is that there was another group of real-life western heroes — Pony Express Riders. We all knew how they rode the mail across hostile country (weather, terrain and Indians) at breakneck speed, only stopping after they’d ridden dozens of mile and only after they had passed the mail on to the next rider.
Its interesting that what we think we knew about the Pony Express is often wrong. Evan Andrews addresses this in post 10 Things You May Not Know About the Pony Express. Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…
2. It was a financial flop. (I really never thought about the financial aspect of running the Pony Express. There’s the cost and upkeep of the horses. Paying the riders as well as those that ran the relief stations and the cost of keeping them stocked. Estimates run as high as $200,000.00 were lost for the investors behind the Pony Express. That translates to about $6.5 million today. Keep in mind the Pony Express was only in operation for about one and a half years! That is another fact that blows many people’s minds. – Craig)
8. Riders didn’t have the deadliest job on the Pony Express. (I found this to be a surprising fact. More relief station workers were killed than Pony Express Riders. The relief stations were in remote locations and vulnerable to attacks by bandits and Indians at war. – Craig)
7. One rider completed a 380-mile run in less than two days. (Most Pony Express riders rode about 75 miles making horse changes along the way. They would they pass off the mail and rest up for their next trip. Robert “Pony Bob” Haslam had ridden his route but the next rider refused to take the mail on. Paiute Indians had been attacking relief stations and the rider was afraid to head into their territory. Haslam grabbed the mail, jumped on a fresh mount and completed the run! After delivering the mail and a brief rest, Haslam completed the return trip, a total of 380 miles in less than 40 hours! – Craig)