Pony Express Trail Sections Information
The Pony Express and Trail was originally proposed for faster mail service crossings over the North American continent from Saint Joseph, MO, to Sacramento, CA, at about April 1860 to about October 1861. At the time, it became the United States fastest direct route of east-coast west-coast mail and communications years before the telegraph poles where laid, and was important for helping keep California in close contact with the rest of the U.S. just before the Civil War.
The Pony Express Route was an offshoot of the 1859 Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Co., which became about a year later the well known "Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Co". The Pony Express was started by Alexander Majors, William Russell, and William B. Waddell.
At it's peak, the original quick mail service had important dispatches carried by 80 horseback couriers and 400-500 horses to relay stations across the plains, prairies, high deserts, and steep mountains and valleys of the Western United States. The route started in St. Joseph, Missouri and followed the earlier established Oregon and Mormon trails the first half of the trip. For its short 18 month span of exciting operation, it quickly cut the time for U.S. mail to travel between the Atlantic Coast and Pacific Coast to a much shorter ten to eleven days.
By having light horseback couriers travel a shortened route and using fast and fresh horses, rather than slow stagecoaches, the owners of the Pony Express envisioned to establish their new courier service as a much faster and reliable route for government mail. Pony Express did demonstrate that a connected trans-continental mail courier system could be built and operated all year, in all weather. Since its replacement by the safer, easier, and much faster First Transcontinental Telegraph Service, the Pony Express has become part of the historic lore of the U.S. American West. Its needed trust on the ability and endurance of lite, smart, and strong riders and horses over the new wire innovation was part of story and lore of "American rugged individualism."
The remaining Pony Express route has been established as the "Pony Express National Historic Trail" which still can be seen, ridden, and walked in many of the trail's remote sections. Many of the trail sections are now dirt roads or established highway routes(see map). There are approximately around 120 historic markers/sites along the trail, many are planned to be restored to past glory and opened for public viewing, including some of the 100 historic stations or the vaguely marked adobe and wood ruins near springs and crossroads(see map for finding stations).
Other trail maps:
Juan Bautista Trail
Mormon Trail Map and
Clark Trail Map
Oregon Trail Map and