80 Skinny Boys

Pony Express

That’s what it amounted to, one of the great memories of the American West—the Pony Express: 80 skinny boys and their fast ponies. This western icon, beginning in 1860, existed at a most turbulent time in American history—the Civil War was looming, the Mexican War was waging, the Mormon War was simmering, gold was discovered in California and Colorado. Maybe the image of young boys flying across the plains to deliver mail in record times was a respite from the anxieties. Maybe it exemplified the “can do” spirit of the new nation. But whatever reason, the Pony Express lives as a shiny moment. The surprising thing is it didn’t last long—just 18 months and 23 days. Yes, that’s right, not 18 years, just 18 months, from April 3, 1960 to October 23, 1861. Then the telegraph took over. But nobody will forget the slight lads who flew over the nation from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, delivering mail and news to a nation hungry to grow up.

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