A 3-cent red brown stamp issued on April 3, 1940, commemorated the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Pony Express, a horse and rider mail delivery system. It was created as an alternative to the Butterfield Overland Stage Line, which followed a southerly route westward from Missouri. Concerns that this service would become unavailable should armed hostilities erupt between North and South prompted the alternative.
The Pony Express was viewed as a temporary solution pending completion of the transcontinental telegraph. It proved critical, however, during the opening months of the Civil War as it kept communications open between Union interests in the East and California.
The stamp shows a Pony Express horse and rider leaving a relay station with a load of mail. Most of these riders were teenage boys who loved the thrill of this challenging assignment. Though short-lived, the Pony Express became one of the enduring legends of the Old West.
Gordon T. Trotter