|Pony Express statue in St. Joseph, Missouri|
They advertised they could deliver mail from St. Joseph to San Francisco in ten days. But the first run was better than that, taking nine day sand twenty-two hours. A half-ounce letter via Wells Fargo cost $1.00 more than via the Pony Express which cost $5.00 plus the U.S. postage required.
It was the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line to Salt Lake City on October 24, 1861 that ended the Pony Express. Information could be carried faster by the telegraph lines than by the low flying ponies of the Pony Express.
To make the endeavor work 120 riders, 184 stations , 400 horses, and several hundred personnel were needed along the route. The riders rode at a lope for ten miles between the stations, where riders took the padlocked mail pouch and traded horses before riding on. The job was so dangerous the riders were paid $25 a week compared to the average laborer who received $1 a week.
You not only had to be a good rider you needed to be small and agile so the horse could run easily. The horses were no taller than 14 1/2 hands and weighed around 900 pounds. This was why they were termed the Pony express. The riders were no more than 125 pounds and the horse was not to carry more than 165 pounds. That included 20 pounds of mail and 20 pounds of "materials". The "materials" were a water sack, Bible, horn to alert the station you were coming, revolver, and a rifle. The riders rode 75-100 miles day and night on their leg of the trip. If there was an emergency they would sometimes have to do a back to back ride.