Walk the Line

McGill's Historic Timeline


The Pony Express made its first run on April 3, 1860. Its riders some only fourteen or fifteen years old - carried important documents between San Francisco

and St. Joseph, Missouri. They covered this distance of nearly 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) in a record ten days, using the central, or Simpson, route across Nevada.



In March 1860, San Francisco Newspapers carried an unusual advertisement:


Young Skinny Wiry Fellows not over eighteen

Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily

Orphans preferred.


Fresh horses were ready at relay stations along the route, and riders were given two minutes to change horses. Racing at breakneck speed, a rider’s average rate of travel was about 9 miles (14 kilometers per hour). But at that time, the Pony Express was considered the closest thing to lightning. Danger was constant, whether from the elements or the Indians. Even so, during its eighteen months of existence, the Pony Express lost only one bag of mail.

On October 24, 1861, the transcontinental telegraph was completed, meeting the need for a fast way to communicate information. A message that had taken ten days by Pony Express could now be transmitted by telegraph in ten seconds.


Today we still have a Pony Express race in the spring from Ely to McGill.