Pony Express

Topical Reference Page
painting of a Pony Express rider on a horse

Pony Express Rider, oil painting possibly by Lloyd Branson (1853-1925)

On April 3, 1860, riders began a relay message service between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California. Could the lively crowds that cheered those first riders off on their journey have imagined that decades later this relatively short-lived service would become a lively piece of American popular culture? While the Pony Express itself ended 18 months after its energetic start, its story lived on through wild west shows, dime novels, and movies.

Camille Bradford presenting a Pony Express lecture
During the Great Depression, the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Pony Express captivated public attention.
man dressed as a Pony Express rider
The Pony Express may be 150 years old, but the celebration continues! Speakers from the National Pony Express Association, Inc. discuss how they honor the Pony Express today.
Pony Express patriotic cover, 1861
The transcontinental Pony Express operated a ten-day mail route between...
Object Spotlight

On April 3, 1860, riders began carrying mail for the fledgling Pony Express service. While the service itself has become legend, few understand just how the mail was actually carried. Riders used mochilas like this reproduction piece.

April 3, 2010 - January 26, 2020

Looks at the legend and the reality of one of America's most famous mail delivery services.

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The words "Pony Express" evoke colorful images in our minds of brave riders dashing over mountains or across deserts of the great American West with vital messages.

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En Route
The Pony Express is one of the most colorful episodes in American history, one which can be used to measure not only the growth of the nation, but the pioneering spirit of our predecessors.

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The Pony Express Festival: Puppet Shows, Twisted Tales, and More!

As the Postal Museum’s very first all-day program, the Pony Express Family Festival featured ten different educational activities. Over 400 visitors to the museum starred in their own interactive puppet show, designed celebrity footwear for Buffalo Bill, sorted a pile of 1860’s mail, and added lines to our Pony Express Twisted Tales storyboard, all while learning about the romance versus reality of the Pony Express.

The Pony Express Delivers

For some people, simply learning about the history just isn’t enough. For members of the National Pony Express Association, nothing short of getting in the saddle and re-living the Pony Express experience will satisfy.

The Pony Express Diamond Jubilee

Revisiting 1935 Pony Express Rerun by Camille Bradford

Happy Birthday Pony Express!

Although a financial failure, the Pony Express demonstrated not only the usefulness of a central route across the west, but established that route for the future transcontinental telegraph (which made the Pony Express obsolete in October 1861) and encouraged additional public support for the transcontinental railroad, which was completed in 1869.


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