Our Pony Express Mail bill commemorates the short but efficient use of the horseback Pony Express riders. In 1850, mail delivery from the eastern U.S. to California took weeks and sometimes months to reach California. In fact, folks in Los Angeles did not even know that California had been admitted to the Union until six-weeks later! In March 1860, William H. Russell, an American transportation pioneer, advertised in newspapers as follows: "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." Russell wanted to start an overland express route to carry mail between St. Joseph, Missouri - the westernmost point reached by the railroad and telegraph - and California. Inaugurated on April 3, 1860, the Pony Express ran through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. On an average day, a rider covered 75 to 100 miles. He changed horses at relay stations, set about 10 or 15 miles apart, transferring himself and his mochila (a saddle cover with four pockets or cantinas for mail) to the new mount, all in one leap. From April 1860 through June 1861, the Pony Express operated as a private enterprise. From July 1, 1861, it operated under contract as a mail route until October 24, 1861, when the transcontinental telegraph line was completed, and the Pony Express became a legend.
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