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While were on the subject of mail, here are some fun facts about mail that you may not know. Enjoy!

 


History of Mail

Envelopes

The first envelopes were made of cloth, animal skins, or vegetable parts. The Babylonians wrapped their message in thin sheets of clay that were then baked.

Of Mice and Mail

In 1653, Frenchman, De Valayer established a postal system in Paris. He set up mail boxes and delivered any letters placed in them if they used envelopes that only he sold. An enemy put live mice into the letter boxes and ruined De Valayer's business.

Stamps

A schoolmaster from England, Rowland Hill invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. Through his efforts the first stamp in the world was issued in England in 1840. Hill created the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight, rather than size. Hill's stamps made the prepayment of postage both possible and practical. See - The History of Stamps. Courtesy of about.com

 
 


Pony Express

Purpose
To provide the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. To draw public attention to the central route in hope of gaining the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

Date:
April 3, 1860, to late October 1861.

Mechanics
Relay of mail by horses and riders. The Pony Express ran day and night, summer and winter.

Riders
183 men are known to have ridden for the Pony Express during its operation of just over 18 months. One of the riders was Broncho Charlie. This is a great page all about him.

Rider Qualifications
Ad in California newspaper read: "Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." Most riders were around 20. Youngest was 11. Oldest was mid-40s. Not many were orphans. Usually weighed around 120 pounds.

Riders Pay
$100 per month.

First Riders
Johnny Fry was first westbound rider from St. Joseph. Billy Hamilton was first eastbound driver from Sacramento.

Rider Relay
New riders took over every 75 to 100 miles.

Horse Relay
Riders got a fresh horse every 10 to 15 miles.

Speed
Horses traveled an average of 10 miles per hour.

Horses
400 horses purchased to stock the Pony Express route. Thoroughbreds, mustangs, pintos, and Morgans were often used.

Stations
Approximately 165 stations.

Trail Length
Almost 2,000 miles.

Route
St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Through the present day states of Kansas, Nebraska, northeast corner of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

Departure
Once a week from April 3 to mid-June 1860. Twice a week from mid-June, to late October 1861. Departures were from both the east and the west.

Schedule
10 days in summer. 12 to 16 days in winter.

Fastest Delivery
7 days and 17 hours between telegraph lines. Lincoln's Inaugural Address.

Longest Drive
Pony Bob Haslam rode 370 miles (Friday's Station to Smith Creek and back. This is in present-day Nevada.)

Cost of Mail
$5.00 per 1/2 ounce at the beginning. By the end of the Pony Express, the price had dropped to $1.00 per 1/2 ounce.

Founders
William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell. The company was the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. The Pony Express was a subsidiary of the famous freight and stage company.

Other Mail Routes
Water route from New York to San Francisco and across Panama by pack mule. Southern or Butterfield route from St. Louis and Memphis to El Paso to Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Telegraph Completed
October 24, 1861. Official end of the Pony Express.

Failures
Financially, the owners spent $700,000 on the Pony Express and had a $200,000 deficit. The company failed to get the million dollar government contract because of political pressures and the outbreak of the Civil War.

Successes
Improved communication between east and west. Proved the central route could be traveled all winter. Supported the central route for the transcontinental railroad. Kept communication open to California at the beginning of the Civil War. Provided the fastest communication between east and west until the telegraph. Captured the hearts and the imagination of people all over the world.

Folklore
One mochila lost and one rider killed. Location, date and names have not been verified.

 

 

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