Wednesday, April 10

We Were There with the Pony Express

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After the Gold Rush, Oregon Trail, and flood of Americans to the west, a mail service was needed that went beyond the Rocky Mountains.  To meet this need, three men founded an express mail company that came to be known as the Pony Express.  Though it only operated for eighteen months, it came to symbolize the Old West.

In April of 1860, the first rider set off on the 1,800 mile journey from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.  The mail was exchanged, and a new horse provided, at every station along the route.  About every hundred miles, a new rider took over as well.  This kept the mail moving at a good clip!  (Mail usually took weeks to arrive, but came in only nine days on the Pony Express.)

The speedy pace wasn’t cheap though…it cost $5 / half-ounce to mail a letter.  That’s roughly $100 today!  Riders were paid $100 / month (at a time when people made $1 / day), but faced some difficult weather and many dangers, including Indians, robbers, and animal attacks.  Most riders were skinny teenagers who wanted excitement!

Only ten weeks after the Pony Express began, the government started building a telegraph line.  When that was completed in October, 1861, the Pony Express shut down because it was much quicker to send a telegram.  Interestingly, the fastest delivery in the history of the Pony Express was clocked at seven days and seventeen hours – it was to deliver President Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address.

Our spine novel is We Were There with the Pony Express

Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

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  1. They weren't merely 'skinny teenagers who wanted excitement' … Wells Fargo targeted orphans so that if they died during the course of the journey, they wouldn't leave behind families who would miss them.

    The orphans themselves had a hard time passing up a job that required so few hours but would pay that well.

    1. I believe that. That quote was derived from information in the public domain. I imagine orphans often were 'skinny teens,' however, as they probably had little to eat and were working hard. Thanks for pointing that out.


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