Split Rock was a relay station during the turbulent 18 month life of the Pony Express. The Express operated at a gallop, speeding mail across the West in only 10 days. However, because of the "talking wire," its days were numbered. The telegraph reached California by October 1861, ending a unique American experiment.
How it was done
Mail relay stations were set up 10 to 15 miles apart, each with two to four men and extra horses. About 500 of the hardiest western ponies were bought at prices up to $200 each. Most important of all, 80 riders were recruited from the most daring, determined and toughest "wiry young fellows" in the West.
Lightly equipped and armed, each rider rode about 70 miles round trip, exchanging horses at three relay stations. Over his saddle he carried the mochila, a leather cover with four mail pouches. Postage for a single letter varied from $1 to $5. Each rider rode at top speed to his relay stations where the precious mochila was placed on a waiting horse and he was off again in about two minutes. Day and night, good weather and bad, winter and summer, the "Pony" never stopped, averaging 10 to 15 miles an hour across the West.
The Pony's echo
Completion of the transcontinental telegraph line on October 24, 1861 doomed the Pony Express. During its short life, the Express attracted world-wide attention that has not faded with time. Russell, Majors, Waddell and Company lost over $1 million on this venture. Nevertheless, the Pony Express stands tall as an outstanding example of American enterprise, endurance, courage and determination.