The horseback relay mail service was established to provide the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California ... traveling right through El Dorado County. The Pony Express was short-lived . beginning April 3, 1860 and ending in late October 1861 with the completion of the Transcontinental Telegraph.80 riders, including 14-year-old William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who made the record single run of 322 miles, were employed to race between the 190 stations, switching horses every 10-15 miles and averaging 75 miles per run-day or night, in all kinds of weather, across 120° F deserts or snowbound Sierra passes through El Dorado County. The Pony Express National Historic Trail was established in 1992 to preserve the trail and commemorate those who rode it.
Pony Express riders were lured to the job with the following ad:
Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.
The riders chosen were around 20 years of age, the youngest being 11 and oldest in his mid-40s.Not many were orphans and all weighed around 120 pounds. They were paid $100 per month.
Ranked among the most remarkable feats to come out of the 1860 American West, the Pony Express was in service from April 1860 to November 1861. Its primary mission was to deliver mail and news between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, California. Click here to go to the Pony Express Home Station website.