In a world of instantaneous communication today, ranging from email to text messaging to Facetime, it is hard to imagine life without it. But in times even before the simple telegraph, there was a breakthrough in communication on this day exactly 160 years ago — April 3rd, 1860 – and that was the first Pony Express mail was sent.
It wasn’t until ten days later on April 13th that it actually arrived cross-country in Sacramento, but at the time, people were amazed at the speed given mail by ships or stage coach took a month or longer to arrive by comparison. The Pony Express Company was a novel concept — and a pricey one too. A half-ounce letter cost five-dollars to ship. Compare that to a first-class stamp for one full ounce today, let alone the inflationary effect of what five dollars meant in 1860 verses now.
While unprofitable, the Pony Express was short-lived and eventually ceased operations. Transcontinental steam trains and telegraph wires strung through the new frontier replaced it with more rapid delivery. But it left us with legendary figures, such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who became one of its many relay riders at a young age — and the nostalgia of the Wild West.