Erin’s Causal Argument
“Nothing meant more to people who went West in the 1840’s and 1850’s than mail from home.”
– National Park Service Pony Express Historic Trail Brochure
People moved West for many reasons: the prospect of a new beginning, free land, even Gold! Leaving family behind was a hardship that many settlers dealt with. And at this time, the only way to communicate with those left behind was to write letters.Order now
Moving was, and still is, a very traumatic process. Picking up and moving everything you own and leaving behind everything familiar – it was a very trying experience.
Letters from home brought back a little bit of familiarity…a little bit of family…a little bit of security.
While the wasn’t the quickest mode of transporting mail to be developed, it was the first of any speed. In an attempt to create a quick and efficient mode for transporting mail, the U.S government spent more than $30,000 researching and purchasing camels. However, the use of camels did not prove practical because, while camels move quickly on flat dessert ground, the camels were not able to climb and maneuver the rocky terrain of the mountains with any great speed ( Service).
At this time, the only way to send a letter was by stagecoach, a method which could take up to 4 weeks.
Mail was too slow to be of any use to families and friends. In the case of a death, letters would reach their destination more than a month after the fact. If help was needed in certain situations, up to two months could pass before any correspondence would be returned. The fact was short and simple – sending letters simply took too long. Although not always practical, it was much quicker to go deliver the message in person.
The Pony Express was not the first of this type of mail transportation.
Actually, the idea of a sort of “mailbag relay race” originated in China. During Gengis Khan’s rule in the , mail was transported across much of Russia and China by riders on horses (Moody 181).
The Pony Express was developed by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell of the Russell, Majors, and Waddell freighting company. The Pony Express trail ran from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Along this 1,6000 mile route were 190 relay stations, where riders would stay to rest and wait for their next delivery home.