Notes from the Past

Pony Express

A famous American mail service operated by pony riders over 2,000 miles of hazardous country between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento California.  The service started in April, 1860, when William H. Russell, one of the proprietors, won a $200,000 wager by proving that the mail could be carried over this route in ten days.  In 1861 stamps inscribed 'Pony Express' were issued by Wells, Fargo and Co., who were the San Francisco agents for the Pony Express.  Genuine used examples are now rare and the stamps have been extensively forged.  Despite its great achievements in speeding up the California mails -- which previously had been taken by sea via Panama -- the Pony Express was not a financial success and after eighteen months it was discontinued on the completion of the transcontinental telegraph.  In that time about 35,000 letters were carried.  A second Pony Express was operated by Wells, Fargo and Co. in 1862-4 between San Francisco and Virginia City, Nevada, at the time of the great Comstock Lode operations, and stamps similar to the earlier issue were used.  This became known as the 'Little Pony' in contrast to the 'Big Pony' original service.
- R. J. Sutton 6th edition revised by K. W. Anthony
The Stamp Collector's Encyclopaedia
Published 1966

Posted January 2, 2000

Editor's Note:  See also the discussion in Scott's Specialized under Wells, Fargo & Co. locals.

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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