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Pony Express | The Route, The Riders, The Ruins Left Behind

Pony Express Map William Henry Jackson.jpgPublic Domain, Link

Pony Express

What was the Pony Express Overview

The Pony Express was an American express mail service that used relays of horse-mounted riders. It was operated by Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

During its 18 months of operation, the Pony Express reduced the time for messages to travel between the east and west US coast to about 10 days. It became the west’s most direct means of east-west communication before the first transcontinental telegraph was established (October 24, 1861), and was vital for tying the new U.S. state of California with the rest of the United States.

How Long Did the Pony Express Last

It operated from April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861, between Missouri and California.

USA – CIRCA 1960: A postage stamp printed in USA Pony Express Centennial Issue shows Pony Express Rider circa 1960

When Was the First Mail Delivered via the Pony Express

The first westbound Pony Express trip left St. Joseph on April 3, 1860, and arrived 10 days later in Sacramento, California, on April 14. These letters were sent under cover from the east to St. Joseph, and never directly entered the U.S. mail system. Today, only a single letter is known to exist from the inaugural westbound trip from St. Joseph to Sacramento.[27] It was delivered in an envelope embossed with postage (depicted below) that was first issued by the U.S. Post Office in 1855.

Who was the Most Famous Pony Express Rider?

In May 1860, Robert “Pony Bob” Haslam took off on the most legendary ride in Pony Express history. The 20-year-old was scheduled to make his usual 75-mile run from Friday’s Station east to Buckland Station in Nevada.

He came to the United States as a teenager and was hired by Bolivar Roberts, helped build the stations, and was assigned the run from Friday’s Station (State Line) to Buckland Station near Fort Churchill, 75 miles to the east. Perhaps his greatest ride, 120 miles in 8 hours and 20 minutes while wounded, was an important contribution to the fastest trip ever made by the Pony Express. The message carried was Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Address.

Other Famous Pony Express Riders

  • Buffalo Bill
  • Charles Peck Thompson
  • Richard Clarke (frontiersman)
  • Johnny Fry
  • George Monroe
  • Robert Haslam (Pony Express)
  • Jack Keetley
  • Bronco Charlie Miller
  • Joaquin Miller
  • Billy Richardson (Pony Express rider)
  • Joseph Alfred Slade
  • Alexander Toponce
  • William Sloan Tough
  • Elijah Nicholas Wilson

How Many Pony Express Stations Were There

The Pony Express route consisted of almost 200 stations that covered 2,000 miles throughout eight states, which were mostly in Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

Each rider generally rode 75 to 100 miles and changed horses every 10 to 15 miles with the entire route taking about 10 days to cover.

Below are the states on the Pony Express route, the number of stations, and how many miles within each state.

STATE# STATIONS# MILES
California2487
Colorado227
Kansas13151
Missouri32
Nebraska38565
Nevada47417
Utah27263
Wyoming43489
TOTAL1972001

Are There Any Pony Express Stations Left

Most of the original Pony Express stations no longer exist or are in ruins.

One of the last standing Pony Express Stations that is in decent shape is the Hollenberg Pony Express Station in Hanover, Kansas, however, is one of the last standings.

Aerial drone view of Fort Churchill, USA, Ruins of a United States Army fort and a way station on the Pony Express route in Lyon County Nevada.

What Replaced the Pony Express?

Nineteen months after launching the Pony Express, it was replaced by the Pacific Telegraph line. The Pony Express was no longer needed. While it existed, the Pony Express provided a needed service but it was never quite the financial success it was hoped to be.

Where Did the Pony Express Begin and End?

From Missouri to California the Pony Express riders could deliver a letter faster than ever before. The Pony Express was in operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861. Nevertheless, the Pony Express has become synonymous with the Old West.

How Far Did the Pony Express Riders go in One Day?

Riders would travel 75 to 100 miles a day, switching horses every 10 to 12 miles. The fastest delivery in the history of the Pony Express was seven days and seventeen hours.

How Close Together Were Pony Express Stations?

Pony stations were generally located between 5 to 20 miles apart. The terrain and its effect on horse travel determined the number and the distance between stations. Stations that already existed for the stagecoach line were also used for “The Pony”.

pony express

Pony Express Routes

This route roughly follows today’s US 50 across Nevada and Utah. 

Beginning at St. Joseph, Missouri, the approximately 1,900-mile-long (3,100 km) route roughly followed the Oregon and California Trails to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, and then the Mormon Trail (known as the Hastings Cutoff) to Salt Lake City, Utah. From there, it followed the Central Nevada Route to Carson City, Nevada Territory, before passing over the Sierra and reaching to Sacramento, California. From there mail was transferred to boats to go downriver to San Francisco. On a few instances when the steamer was missed, riders took the mail by horseback to Oakland, California.

Pony Express Stations

Below are the Pony Express Stations located in the Southwest states of California, Nevada, and Utah.

Pony Express

Pony Express Statue in Old Sacramento State Historic Park.

Pony Express Stations in California

California’s gold was very important to the Union, so communication with the state was critical to keep it from seceding, along with the southern states.   The Pony Express helped to keep California in the Union by delivering President Lincoln’s March 4, 1861, inaugural address in 7 days, and 17 hours.

LEGEND:

  • (H) = Home Station (some of these changed over time, as needed)
  • Bold = Station Name on the original U.S. Senate Executive Document, 46th Congress, 3rd Session, I, No. 21 p.7-8 “Contract with Overland Mail Co” “Route 10773”
  • Italics = Station Name listed on the 2010 Map prepared by the National Pony Express Association and produced and printed by the National Parks Service to celebrate the Pony Express Sesquicentennial.

List of Pony Express Stations in California:

  1. Woodford’s    (used only during April 1860)
  2. Fountain Place
  3. Yank’s / Myers / Meyers
  4. Hope Valley / Sorenson’s
  5. Phillips
  6. Strawberry / Strawberry Valley House   (FYI:  It is reported that Mr. Berry, the station operator, fed the stock straw—but charged for hay!—or, maybe there were, indeed strawberries to be found growing in the area.)
  7. Split Rock
  8. Webster’s / Sugarloaf House / Silverfork
  9. Moss / Moore’s / Riverton / Mess
  10. Pacific House
  11. (H) Sportsman’s Hall / Twelve Mile
  12. Placerville / Hangtown / Old Dry Diggins / Ravine City   (FYI:  During the first several months, a “southern” route, using stations 13-15, was followed to Five Mile House; later, a “northern” route that used stations 16-18 was used.)    On July 1, 1861, Placerville became the Western Terminus.
  13. El Dorado / Mud Springs / Nevada House
  14. Mormon / Mormon Tavern / Sunrise House
  15. Fifteen Mile House
  16. Diamond Springs
  17. Durco / Duroc House / Pleasant Grove / Pleasant Grove House / Shingle Springs
  18. Folsom  (On July 1, 1860, Folsom became the Western Terminus)
  19. Five Mile / Five Mile House / Mills
  20. (H) Old Sacramento: B.F. Hastings Building – “Western Terminus”
  21. Water Route:  Sacramento to San Francisco via the American River on a steamboat or, if they missed the boat, overland from Sacramento:
    1. Benicia / Benica
    2. Martinez
    3. Oakland
    4. San Francisco – Western Headquarters

Middlegate Station, Nevada – Situated in between Fallon and Austin, with a population of 17.

Pony Express Stations in Nevada

About 80% of the Pony Express Trail in what is now Nevada is on national resource lands—available to the public.  These Pony Express miles were unforgiving and difficult for riders and station keepers, alike.  

LEGEND:

  • (H) = Home Station (some of these changed over time, as needed)
  • Bold = Station Name on the original U.S. Senate Executive Document, 46th Congress, 3rd Session, I, No. 21 p.7-8 “Contract with Overland Mail Co” “Route 10773”
  • Italics = Station Name listed on the 2010 Map prepared by the National Pony Express Association and produced and printed by the National Parks Service to celebrate the Pony Express Sesquicentennial.
  • * Needs further research if confirm if a station

List of Pony Express Stations in Nevada:

  1. Alpine Ranch Station *
  2. Antelope Springs [White Pine County, Nevada]
  3. Bates’ / Butte / Butte Creek / Robber’s Roost
  4. Bisby’s / Busby’s
  5. Buckland’s (H) (used at first, until Indian Wars started) [Lyon County, Nevada – Learn more about Buckland Station State Park]
  6. Butte Station *
  7. Camp Station / Grubb’s Well (used from about June 1861 to the Pony’s end)
  8. Cape Horn
  9. Carson City (H) / Carson
  10. Carson Sink / Sink of Carson
  11. Castle Rock (this station’s existence is questioned)
  12. Clugage’s (mention of this station was only found on the government contract)
  13. Cold Springs (H) / Telegraph / East Gate / Eastgate
  14. Dayon *
  15. Deep Creek Station *
  16. Desert Wells / Desert Well
  17. Desert / Hooten Wells
  18. Diamond Springs
  19. Dry Creek (H) 
  20. Dry Wells / Mount Airy (this station was used during the later months only)
  21. Edward’s Creek
  22. Egan Canon / Egan Canyon / Egan / Egan’s
  23. Eight Mile House / Prairie Gate / Pleasant Valley
  24. Fairview
  25. Fort Churchill (H) (used after Indian Wars started) [Lyon County, Nevada – Learn more about Fort Churchill Historic Park]
  26. Friday’s (H) / Lakeside
  27. Genoa / Old Mormon [Douglas County, Nevada]
  28. Grubb’s Well *
  29. Honey Lake / William’s / Smith’s
  30. Hooten Well Station *
  31. Jacob’s Wells / Jacob’s Well
  32. Jacbobsville Station *
  33. Middle Gate / Middlegate / Middle Creek (During the last 7 months of the Pony, the route followed a more direct, “northern” route from Middlegate to Miller’s stations 34-41; the earlier-used, “southern” route included stations 25-33.)
  34. Miller’s / Reed’s
  35. Mountain Springs
  36. Mountain Wells / Mountain Well
  37. Nevada
  38. Nevada / Nevada City / Dayton / Chinatown / Spafford’s Hall
  39. Old River
  40. Prairie Gate *
  41. Ragtown
  42. Reese / Reese River / Jacobsville / Jacob’s Spring
  43. Robert’s Creek (H) 
  44. Rock Spring (summer)
  45. Ruby Valley (the actual station is now located in the Elko Museum)
  46. Sand Hill
  47. Sand Springs / Mountain Well
  48. Shell Creek (H) / Schell Creek / Fort Schellbourne
  49. Simpson’s Park / Simpson Park
  50. Smith’s Creek (H) 
  51. Spring Valley / Stone House (winter)
  52. Stillwater / Salt Well
  53. Sulphur Springs
  54. Van Sickle’s
  55. West Gate / Westgate
 
Pony Express

Pony Express station is located at Simpson Springs Utah. 

Pony Express Stations in Utah

LEGEND:

  • (H) = Home Station (some of these changed over time, as needed)
  • Bold = Station Name on the original U.S. Senate Executive Document, 46th Congress, 3rd Session, I, No. 21 p.7-8 “Contract with Overland Mail Co” “Route 10773”
  • Italics = Station Name listed on the 2010 Map prepared by the National Pony Express Association and produced and printed by the National Parks Service to celebrate the Pony Express Sesquicentennial.

List of Pony Express Stations in Utah:

  1. Needle Rock / The Needles
  2. (H) Head of Echo Canyon / Echo Canyon / Echo / Castle Rock / Frenchies
  3. Half Way / Halfway / Emory / Daniels     (FYI:  Mr. Daniels, the station keeper, maybe was the source of the story (maybe true?) of the XP brand on the horses.  Local thieves kept stealing his station horses and then selling them back to the Pony Express!  So, he decided to brand them “XP” so that they could be identified.)
  4. Weber / Bromley’s / Pulpit Rock / Hanging Rock / Echo
  5. Brimville Emergency Station / Henneforville / Henefer
  6. East Canon / East Canyon / Dixie Hollow / Dixie Creek / Big Mountain / Snyder’s Mill / Carson House / Dutchman’s Flat
  7. Wheaton Springs / Winston Springs / Bauchmann’s
  8. Mountain Dale / Mountain Dell / Hanks / Big Canyon Creek
  9. (H) Salt Lake / Salt Lake House
  10. Trader’s Rest / Traveler’s Rest
  11. Rockwell / Rockwell’s
  12. Dug Out / Dugout / Joe’s Dugout / Seven Mile / Joe Butcher’s
  13. Camp Floyd – John Carson’s Inn / Fort Crittenden / Fairfield / Cedar City
  14. East Rush Valley / Pass / East Faust / Five Mile
  15. (H) Bush Valley / Rush Valley / Meadow Creek / Faust / Meady Creek
  16. Point Lookout / Lookout Pass / Jackson’s / General Johnson’s
  17. Government Creek / Government Road Junction / Davis
  18. (H) Simpson’s Springs / Simpson Springs / Egans Springs / Lost Springs / Pleasant Springs
  19. Riverbed / River Bed / Red Bed
  20. Dugway / Shortcut Pass
  21. Blackrock / Black Rock / Blackrock Springs / Rock House
  22. (H) Fish Springs / Fish Creek / Fresh Springs / Smith Springs
  23. Boyd’s / Butte / Desert
  24. Willow Springs   (original XP Station is still standing)
  25. Six Mile House / Mountain Springs / Willow Creek
  26. Canyon / Burnt / Overland / Round / Round Fort
  27. (H) Deep Creek / Deep Springs / Ibapah / Egans

Middlegate Station, Nevada – Situated in between Fallon and Austin, with a population of 17.

Pony Express Rider Oath

I, … , do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors, and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God.

The oath above was used to swear in Pony Express Riders.

Pony Express Riders

There is not an “official” list of the Pony Express riders and the list below has been compiled from various sources from newspapers to family histories.

These brave riders were young men (boys) and grown men who had a sense of adventure and tackled inclement weather and harsh conditions.

  1. James Alcott
  2. Andrew Ole Anderson
  3. J.W. Anderson
  4. John Anson
  5. Henry Avis
  6. Rodney Babbit
  7. Lafayette Ball
  8. James Banks
  9. James Barnell
  10. Jim Baughn
  11. Marve Beardsley
  12. James Beatley
  13. Charles Becker
  14. John Bedford
  15. Thomas Bedford
  16. Martin Bengtson
  17. James Bently
  18. Asher Bigelow
  19. Charles Billman
  20. G.R. Gills
  21. “Black Sam”
  22. “Black Tom”
  23. Lafayette Bolwinkle
  24. Bond
  25. “Boston”
  26. William Boulton
  27. John Brandenburger
  28. James Brink
  29. Hugh Brown
  30. James Brown
  31. James Bucklin
  32. David Burnett
  33. Ed Bush
  34. Henry Butterfield
  35. William Campbell
  36. James Carlin
  37. Gustavas Carlton
  38. Alexander Carlyle
  39. William Carr
  40. William Carrigan
  41. James Carter
  42. Michael Casey
  43. William Cates
  44. James Clark
  45. John Clark
  46. Richard Clarke
  47. Richard Cleve
  48. Charles Cliff
  49. Gustavus Cliff
  50. William Cody
  51. Buck Cole
  52. Bill Corbett
  53. Edward Covington
  54. James Cowan
  55. Jack Crawford
  56. James Cumbo
  57. Louis Dean
  58. James Dennis
  59. William Dennis
  60. Frank Derrick
  61. Alex Diffenbacher
  62. Thomas Dobson
  63. J. Dodge
  64. Joseph Donovan
  65. W.E. Dorrington
  66. Calvin Downs
  67. Tommy Drum
  68. Daniel Drumheller
  69. James Dunlap
  70. William Eckels
  71. Major Howard Egan
  72. Howard Ransom Egan
  73. Richard Erastus Egan
  74. Thomas J. Elliott
  75. J.K. Elllis
  76. Charles Enos
  77. George Fair
  78. H.H. Faust
  79. Josiah Faylor
  80. Johnny Fischer
  81. John Fisher
  82. William Fisher
  83. Thomas Flynn
  84. Jimmie Foreman
  85. Johnny Fry
  86. William Fulkerson
  87. Abram Fuller
  88. George Gardner
  89. James Gentry
  90. James Gilson
  91. Samuel Gilson
  92. Jim Gleason
  93. Frank Gould
  94. “Irish Tom” Grady
  95. Martin Hall
  96. Parley Hall
  97. Sam Hall
  98. Billy Hailton
  99. James “Bean” Hamilton
  100. Sam Hamilton
  101. Robert Haslam
  102. Theodore Hawkins
  103. Sam Haws
  104. Frank Helvey
  105. Levi Hensel
  106. William Hickman
  107. Lucius Ludosky Hickok
  108. Charles Higginbotham
  109. Martin Hogan
  110. Clark Huntington
  111. Lester Huntington
  112. William James
  113. David Jay
  114. William Jenkins
  115. Jennings
  116. Samuel Jobe
  117. William Jones
  118. Jack Keetley
  119. Hiram Kelley
  120. Jay Kelley
  121. Mike Kelly
  122. Thomas King
  123. John Koerner
  124. Harry LaMont
  125. Thomas Landon
  126. George Larkin
  127. William Lawson
  128. Charles Larzelere
  129. James Madison Lenhart
  130. Geroge Leonard
  131. George Little
  132. N.N. Lytle
  133. Joseph Malcom
  134. Robert Martin
  135. Philip Mass (Messero)
  136. Elijah Maxfield
  137. Montgomery Maze
  138. Silas McAulas (Macaulas)
  139. Emmet McCain
  140. J.G. McCall
  141. Charlie McCarty
  142. James McDonald
  143. Pat McEneany
  144. David McLaughlin
  145. James McNaughton
  146. William McNaughton
  147. Lorenzo Meacona
  148. J.P. Mellen
  149. Howard Mifflin
  150. Charlie Miller
  151. James Alexander Moore
  152. John Mussy
  153. Jeramiah Murphy
  154. Newton Myrick
  155. Paul Obershaw
  156. Mathew Orr
  157. Robert Orr
  158. G. Packard
  159. William Page
  160. Charles Parks
  161. Charles Parks
  162. John Paul
  163. “Mochila Joe” Paxton
  164. George Perkins
  165. Joseph Perkins
  166. Edward Pollinger
  167. Charles Pridham
  168. Thomas Ranahan
  169. Theodore Rand
  170. James Randalll
  171. Charles Reynolds
  172. Thomas Reynolds
  173. William Minor Richards
  174. H. Richards
  175. Johnson W. Richardson
  176. Sewell Ridley
  177. Bartholomew Riles
  178. Jonathan Rinehart
  179. Don Rising
  180. Harry Roff
  181. Edward Rush
  182. John Rutsel
  183. Thomas Ryan
  184. Robert Sanders
  185. F.H. Saunders
  186. G.G. Sangiovanni
  187. George Scovell
  188. Henry Clay Scrafford
  189. John Seebeck
  190. Jack Selman
  191. Joseph Serish
  192. James Shanks
  193. John Sinclair
  194. George Smethurst
  195. John Sprague
  196. George Spurr
  197. Edward Sterling
  198. William Streeper
  199. Robert Stricklen
  200. William Strohm
  201. John Sugget
  202. George Talcott
  203. Billy Tate
  204. George Thatcher
  205. J.J. Thomas
  206. Bill Thompson
  207. Charles Thompson
  208. James Thompson
  209. Alexander Toponce
  210. Elias Littleton Tough
  211. William Tough
  212. George Towne
  213. Bill Trotter
  214. Henry Tuckett
  215. Warren Upson
  216. John Wade
  217. Henry Wallace
  218. Jun Waller
  219. John Watson
  220. Daniel Wescott
  221. Michael Whalen
  222. George Wheat
  223. “Whipsaw”
  224. J. Williams
  225. H.C. Wills
  226. Thomas Thornhill Willson
  227. Elijah Nicholas Wilson
  228. Slim Wilson
  229. Ira Wines
  230. Joseph Barney Wintle
  231. Henry Worley
  232. James Worthington
  233. Amos Wright
  234. George Wright
  235. Jose Zowgaltz

 

Pony Express Stops in Nevada

Shoes were thrown into a tree on Highway 50 Nevada the loneliest road in America old Pony Express Trail

References Used

Pony Express