Timeless Tuesday–History Related to my Novel

The Pony Express never made a profit, and it had a short life — only 19 months.

As you will read in my novel, the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860.

Some of the highlights of the life of the Pony Express:

The Pony Express delivered President Abraham Lincoln’s March 4th inaugural address to California in the fastest time ever — just 7 days and 17 hours. The message it brought was news that helped the state stay loyal.

In April 1861, The Pony Express delivered the word that the Civil War had begun. The Pony Express brought news of battles and lists of the dead and wounded to anxious westerners until the Pony Express’s last run in November 1861.

Due to the completion of the transcontinental telegraph, the Pony Express officially shut down on October 26, 1861, but it made it’s last run on November 20, 1861.During its time of operation, the Pony Express completed 300 runs each way over 600,000 miles and carried more than 33,000 pieces of mail.

The Pony Express lives on today–in books and movies, and in the hearts of people who love its history.

The National Pony Express Association rides a 1,943-mile route that is as close as possible to the original trail. It is a 10-day, round-the-clock non-stop event and more than 500 riders participate. But today’s Pony Express riders use short-wave radios and cell phones to spread the news of their journey.

Timeless Tuesday: History Related to My Novel

The above photo is from johnsigrid.blogspot.com. It is a photo of an actual Pony Express mochila that John and Sigrid saw at the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Before I explain the mochila, I want you to know that the Pony Express began it’s run in early April 1860, and the Pony Express plays a big part in my upcoming novel.

Mochila is the Spanish word for knapsack or pack, and this particular type of mochila was used by the Pony Express. It fit over the saddle, as you can see in the above photo, it had four pockets or cantinas–two on each side.

Mail would be placed in three of the pockets and they would then be locked. There were only two keys for the locks, and the two keys were at opposite ends of the trail–one in St. Joseph, Missouri and the other in Sacramento, California.

The fourth pocket of the mochila was left unlocked and empty in the event that the Pony Express rider would receive a military dispatch along the way.

Mail was written on onion skin paper and was wrapped in oil cloth to protect it from the weather.

The Pony Express charged $5 per half-ounce for mail, which is about $85 in today’s money. They later reduced it to $1.

Because they needed to take care of the horses they rode on the route, there were weight restrictions for horse, rider, mail, and equipment. The maximum weight of the horse was 165 pounds. A rider had to weigh less than 120 pounds because they carried twenty pounds of mail and twenty-five pounds of equipment.