US Postage Stamps // Philatelic Project // The Federal States


Pony Express

#0113 // March 20, 1869, earliest known use
(ex 1869 Pictorial Definitives Issue - "G" grill)

Pony Express Rider

Scott catalogue value
US$ 800 (mint, hinged), US$ 100 (used)
At the time it was issued, the Pony Express Rider stamp was severely criticized for its design. The horse appears to be leaping rather than galloping. Some said the horse's position is nearly impossible. However, it captured US nation's infatuation with the romance of the Pony Express.

#0894 // April 3, 1940 // St. Joseph, MO
Pony Express Rider
#1154 // July 19, 1960 // Sacramento, CA
Pony Express Rider and Route of the Express
80th and 100th Anniversary of the
Pony Express
As for stamp #0113 also for stamp #0894 the depiction of the horse's pace was criticized. A noted sculptor was quoted in a national newspaper claiming that a horse could not possibly run in the position shown on the stamp. Veterinarians, horse breeders, jockeys and horse enthusiasts agreed. Rumors claimed that the stamp was going to be re-issued due to the error, so collectors purchased large quantities of the stamp, expecting it to be removed from sale. In the end, the stamp was never re-issued, but sold out anyway, making it scarce today.

#0924 // May 24, 1944 //Baltimore, MD
Telegraph Centenary
First message transmitted by telegraph
on May 24, 1844

Telegraph wires and Morse's
first transmitted words:
"What hath God wrought"
On October 24, 1861, the Western Union Telegraph Company completed the first transcontinental telegraph line in Salt Lake City, UT. The opening of the transcontinental telegraph made the Pony Express unnecessary, just 19 months (570 days) after it was created.

#U543 // July 19, 1960 //St. Joseph, MO
FDC - Stamped envelope with cachet
Pony Express Centennial


In 1860, mail contractor Ben Holladay joined forces with the Russell, Majors and Waddell freight company »COC & PPE1)« to create a mail-carrying company that would be faster and more efficient than the stagecoaches of the Butterfield Overland Mail established on September 6, 1858. Holladay established 200 stations 10 miles [16 km] apart along a 2,005 miles [3.227 km] trail from St. Joseph, MO, to Sacramento, CA - linking Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. He bought 500 of the fastest horses he could find and hired 80 daring riders to begin service on the Pony Express on April 03, 1860.
These riders, who were paid approximately US$ 25 per week, carried up to 20 pounds [9,1 kg] of mail an average of 75 miles [120,7 km] in nine hours, picking up a rested horse at each stop every 10 to 15 miles, riding non-stop, day and night, rain or shine. This route could be completed in ten days or less, which was 12 to 14 days faster than the Overland Mail. The fastest trip was seven days, when riders delivered the news of Abraham Lincoln's presidential election in November of that year. Initially, it cost US$ 5 per half-ounce [14,175 g] to send a letter between San Francisco, CA and St. Joseph, MO, but that charge was later reduced to US$ 1. Some famous Pony Express riders included Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody.
The completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861 brought about the Pony Express' decline, just 19 months after it was created. During that time the Pony Express riders carried 35,000 letters, two-thirds of which were headed east. Despite its fame, the Pony Express was a financial failure. Without government subsidy or lucrative mail contracts »COC & PPE1)«, the parent company of the Pony Express, became known as "Clean Out of Cash & Poor Pay Express."
1) Central Overland California & Piles Peak Express Company

Letter from San Francisco to New York carried by the Pony Express in 1860
Market value US$ 20,000 minimum
A Eastbound Pony Express blue oval departure postmark San Francisco Sept. 29
B After 11 days Pony Express black oval arrival COC & PPE1) postmark St. Joseph. MO. Oct 10
C1 Next day handed over to US post office, round postmark Saint Joseph MO Oct 11 1860
C2 Affixed US postage stamp 10 ¢ (SC #13, Washington), four-ring target cancellation,
required to deliver the letter by US Mail to its final destination New York D
  1) Central Overland California & Piles Peak Express Company

Market value
US$ ca. 1,490
Market value
US$ ca. 3,990
Market value
US$ ca. 4,990
Wells Fargo & Co. Pony Express Stamps
First issued in April 1861
In April 1861, Wells Fargo & Co. took charge of the western end of the route to keep the Pony Express running. Wells Fargo lowered the rates to US$ 2 per half-ounce, and introduced Wells Fargo postage stamps for use over the entire line. On July 1, 1861, Overland Mail Company, a subsidiary firm of Wells Fargo & Co. took over direct management of the line. Overland Mail Company again lowered rates, to US$ 1 per half-ounce, and carried the mail between San Francisco, CA and Salt Lake City, UT. The »COC & PPE1)« continued to operate the eastern leg of the Pony Express to St. Joseph, MO until the express ceased operations on October 24, 1861.


In 1961 the US Mint has produced the commemorative silver medal to mark the accomplishments of the Pony Express. The Pony Express operated from April 3, 1860, to October 24, 1861, moving the US mail from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA in ten days or less. The completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line on October 24, 1861, ended the need for the Pony Express service. The 57.39-millimeter medal is struck in .900 fine silver. Each medal contains 4.212 troy ounces of pure silver.
The obverse (above left) depicts conjoined busts left to right of William Hepburn Russell (* 1812, † 1872), Alexander Majors (* 1814, † 1900), and William Bradford Waddell (* 1807, † 1872), the founders, owners, and operators of the Pony Express. Below of the busts is a map of the telegraph line linking St. Joseph, MO, Salt Lake City, UT, and Sacramento, CA and a telegraph key.
The reverse (above right) depicts a dismounted Pony Express rider tending to his horse, as the rider looks at a Native American in the background whose hand is raised in greeting. A telegraph line stretches overhead and off into the distance.
A total of 1,000 of the silver medals with oxidized antique finish were issued at US$ 30 each for the National Pony Express Centennial Association. Recently, July 28, 2014, an example of the medal was recorded sold on eBay for US$ 160.47.


U. S. Route 50

The US Route 50, created in 1926 as part of the original US Highway system, is a major coast-to-coast road link stretching 3,008 miles [4.841 km] from Ocean City, MD on the Atlantic Ocean to West Sacramento, CA. Highway 50 passes through a total of 12 states - California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland - as well as the District of Columbia. Nevada's portion of Highway 50 runs through the Pony Express Territory from Baker in the west to Dayton in the east. In the late 1980s, Life Magazine is said to have ran a very negative article about Nevada State Highway 50 titled
»The Loneliest Road«.
An American Automobile Association (AAA) spokesman had described Highway 50 route through Nevada in these words:
"It's totally empty.
There are no points of interest.
We don't recommend it.
We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they're confident of their survival skills
The »Loneliest Road« winds through high mountain desert seemingly untouched by man blanketed with sagebrush. The road roughly parallels the historic Pony Express Trail, which goes from Silver Springs through Fallon and along the towns across Highway 50. Remnants of the Pony Express Route are visible for much of the way along »America's Loniest Road«.
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