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History of Pony Express important venture for connecting United States

When I hear the words "pony express," I see a young man astride a horse racing across the prairie. While I can't see the saddlebags, I know he is carrying the mail. That's all I knew about the pony express.

Then I read "The Saga of the Pony Express" by Joseph J. Di Certo. This fascinating book gives a history of this exciting and little-known chapter in America's Western lore, including a list of the Pony Express riders and details about the relay stations (including names of attendants).

In the mid-1800s, many Americans had gone west in search of gold and for land. They were virtually cut off from families and friends in the East and from news concerning the United States. The only way to get news to them was to send the mail and newspapers by ship or wagon. Both were dangerous and unreliable.

Setting up the express

While others are often credited with coming up with the first idea of a central overland-route mail service, it was William H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell who established the Pony Express. They owned a profitable freighting business, but to prepare for this new venture they set up a separate corporation and bought another smaller passenger and freight business to gain additional equipment, facilities and experienced personnel.

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