The Pony Express operated for just 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861. Stretching from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, riders would carry mail across more than 1,800 miles in 10 days. While efficient, the Pony Express raced against the transcontinental telegraph line. On October 26, 1861 the line was complete, connecting California to New York, and with it came the end of the Pony Express.
This 1916 letter written by Pony Express rider Billy Fisher to St. Joseph historian Mabel Loving describes the dangers riders faced in Utah Territory between Ruby Valley and Egan Station in 1860-61. Fisher wrote he got lost “in a blizzard for 20 hours.” At one point, he got off his horse, sat down, and started to fall asleep in the snowbank “when something jumped onto my legs and scared me. I looked up in time to see a jack rabbit hoping away through the snow…If that rabbit hadn’t brought me back to my senses I should have frozen right there.” Billy Fisher’s great-grandson was NASA Astronaut Dr. William Fisher, mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery in 1985. Dr. Fisher carried this letter with him in space during his mission.
Subject: Transportation; Poney Express; Postal service -- United States
Contributing Institution: Pony Express National Museum
Letter Date: 1916