The Pony Express: A Surprisingly Short History

The Pony Express has become synonymous with some of the earliest messenger services and package delivery in the United States. Often seen as a major part of US history, the Pony Express was actually a sparsely used and very expensive service, namely targeting super rich business owners of the time.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Considered a “fast mail service,” the Pony Express was started in 1860 and quickly took hold in many different parts of the United States. Much of this popularity came from the novelty of sending a letter or small package to friends, loved ones, and business partners to many different locations across the States. However, with the quick onset of this interesting service came a fairly swift ending. There were a few major issues with the structure of the Pony Express that made it nearly impossible to catch on as an everyday service for the majority of Americans. Firstly, the points of delivery were somewhat disjointed and slim—some deliveries took way too long to be labeled “express” (even in the mid-1800s). Its major downfall, like most companies, was the money aspect. The price started at an astoundingly high $5 per half ounce letter, over $100 today. Eventually, the price fell to about $1, about a $26 equivalent to today, but it was still far too expensive for the general public to embrace.