Timeless Tuesday — History Related to my Novel

The photo above is of Samuel Clemens, better known as “Mark Twain” a famous author. During the time of the Pony Express, Samuel Clemens took a stage coach across the west to Virginia City. Along the way, as he looked out the stage coach window, he saw a Pony Express rider. He wasn’t a published author at the time, but it wouldn’t be long.

In what became Mark Twain’s second book, Roughing It, he wrote of his adventures and described what the West looked like in 1860 and 1861. In so doing, he unintentionally wrote much of what we know about the stations of the Pony Express during that time.

Mark Twain said of a Pony Express rider, “The pony rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance.”

He wrote an entire chapter about the Pony Express in Roughing It.

Timeless Tuesday — History Related to my Novel

Frontispiece--Alden the Pony Expresss Rider.jpg
Photo copied from wikisource and “Alden and the Pony Express Rider” by Edward S. Ellis

I know it’s difficult to really see what the rider in the above picture is wearing, but it’s hard to find a photo or picture that shows what the actual Pony Express uniform looked like.

Pony Express riders were given uniforms to wear. The uniform consisted of blue pants, a red shirt, gloves, and a pair of boots. However, most riders found the uniform uncomfortable and instead, chose to wear buckskins.

Riders also carried a rifle and a pistol. One website I visited also said they carried a bugle they would blow, when approaching a station, to alert the stock tender to have a fresh horse ready when they rode in.

However, the majority of my research says the riders let out a “coyote yell” when approaching a station to alert the stock tender to have a fresh horse ready. A “coyote yell” is a noise they would make with their mouth and didn’t need an exterior instrument to create.

Timeless Tuesday: Horses or Ponies?


Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

The above photo is a picture of two ponies. Note that a pony’s body is shorter and a bit stouter than the body of a horse. Their legs are shorter than a horse’s legs. Therefore, they would not have been a good choice for use in the “Pony Express”.

The Pony Express began its run in April 1860, and when my upcoming novel is published, should you choose to read it (and I hope you will), you will find that the Pony Express is a big part of my story.

Even though it was commonly called the “Pony Express”, the actual official name was the “Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company” (C.O.C. & P.P.), and they didn’t use ponies. They used horses.

William H. Russell, one of the three men who started the C.O.C. and P.P. business wanted 200 grey mares between four and seven years old, no bigger than fifteen hands high that were saddle broken and healthy, solid, and reliable.  However, the company bought 400 to 500 horses, but they weren’t all grey mares.


Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

The above photo is a picture of a Thoroughbred horse. Kentucky Thoroughbreds and Morgans were ridden on the eastern end of the Pony Express route.

War Eagle - mustang of the South Steens, OR Wild horse stallion ...

The above photo is a picture of a Mustang. California Mustangs were ridden on the western stretch of the Pony Express route.

The horses were ridden hard at a gallop because mail delivery by the Pony Express was promised to get from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California in ten days. Never before in history had letters been delivered such a distance so quickly. Therefore, horses galloped an average of ten miles per hour, sometimes being pushed to twenty-five miles per hour. Station houses were built 10-15 miles apart and Express riders would ride a length of 75 to 100 miles, but would stop at the station houses every 10 to 15 miles for a fresh horse, so as not to harm the horses, and allow them to eat, drink, and rest. An Express rider changed horses eight to ten times on their route.

The main character of my upcoming novel is a Pony Express rider.


Timeless Tuesday: What was Happening in 1860?

The novel that I am working on is set in 1860. That is the year the Pony Express began. How did it begin?

William H. Russell, one of a trio of men who had a freighting company known as Russell, Majors, and Waddell created the Pony Express. They were business partners in Missouri. They had a lot of experience hauling cargo and passengers. They took an interest in government mail contracts as they already offered a stagecoach service that provided mail between the Missouri River and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Russell was convinced that a horse relay, a Pony Express would be a money-making endeavor. His partners, William, B. Waddell and Alexander Majors were not so sure. Without the approval of his partners, William Russell committed to opening the express mail service on the central overland route in April 1860.

So the three partners started a new company, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company (C.O.C. & P.P.). This was the official name of the Pony Express. The company had just 67 days to hire riders, station keepers, and mail handlers, and to buy horses, food, and other supplies and distribute them to stations along the route. Some of the stations weren’t even built or located yet.

However, homes stations were established every 75 to 100 miles. These homes stations would house riders between runs. Smaller relay stations were established every 10 to 15 miles to provide riders with fresh horses.

Many of the stations were upgraded from existing stagecoach stations, while some had to be built from scratch. They began with 86 stations but expanded to 147 stations by mid-1861.

Alexander Majors organized the route into five divisions, numbered east to west. The first leg of the route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory on the Platte River.

This is the leg of the journey that my main male character has a part in.

It’s Here — Research Materials!




You are about to get a small sneak peak into the novel I am working on.

Drum roll, please.    “Rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat-a-tat-a-rat!”

My current work in progress (WIP) is an historical romance novel set in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1860, the year that the Pony Express began, and yes, my main male character (protoganist) is a Pony Express rider.  I am doing my very best to keep the historical aspects true to history, so I have done quite a bit of research but still wanted more.

Therefore, after scouring the St. Joseph, Missouri website as well as a few other websites, I decided to call the National Pony Express Museum that’s in St. Joseph, Missouri and see if they had any materials they could send me. I spoke with a very nice young lady on the phone who said it would be no problem to send me a packet of information.

I was excited and eagerly checked my mailbox daily watching for the packet’s arrival. After about three weeks, I thought that snail mail had either seriously slowed down or the packet wasn’t sent or it got lost in the mail. So, I called the museum again and spoke to the same young lady, who remembered speaking to me and asked me how my novel is coming! Then she apologized that I didn’t receive a packet of information and she promised to take care of putting it together and getting it sent.

It arrived last Monday, and I was so excited!  I am enjoying reading over the material and adding information to what I already have. I am having so much fun researching and writing this novel!