The Topic: 
Pony Express

Easier -The pony express was a mail service where riders on horseback traveled from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Riders changed horses at stations placed about ten to fifteen miles apart. A rider handed the mail pack over to another rider after completing about 75 miles.
Young, often teenage lightweight riders, orphans preferred, were hired for the job. One of the most famous was Buffalo Bill Cody. The pony express lasted only nineteen months, from April 3, 1860 to October 24, 1861. The pony express ended when the telegraph first crossed the continent.
Harder - The pony express was developed by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the pony express were spurred by the impending cloud of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with California and the West. The pony express consisted of relays of men riding fast ponies or horses that carried letters and small packages across a 1,966-mile (3,164-kilometer) trail. The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours. The pony riders covered 250 miles in a 24-hour day as compared with 100 to 125 miles by the stage coaches.
Prior to the start of the pony express, there were three mail routes to California. The first was a steamship voyage from New York, then crossing the Isthmus of Panama by canoe and mule, and next connecting with another steamship run to San Francisco. This journey took 22 days but was used to carry the bulk of western mail prior to the Pony Express. The other two mail service options used wagon routes and stagecoach lines. The central route was used mainly for local mail. It ran from Independence, Missouri, along the Platte River, through South Pass, Salt Lake City, Carson City, and on to Sacramento with a total travel time of 21? days. The third option, the Butterfield Overland Mail Company route, followed an oxbow-shaped path some 600 miles south of the Central Route, taking up to three weeks to arrive in Southern California.
During the critical early days of the Civil War, the pony express helped to preserve the Union by providing rapid communication between California and Washington, D.C. Both the North and the South wanted California to join them. For the Union, the State provided needed material resources and a far-western base of operations against the Confederacy. The control of California by the South could have stalemated the Federal Government west of the Rocky Mountains where half a million people then lived.
Eventually, the pony express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost. The service lasted only 19 months until October 24, 1861, when the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line ended the need for its existence. Although California relied upon news via the pony express during the early days of the Civil War, the horse line was never a financial success, leading its founders to bankruptcy. However, the drama surrounding the pony express made it a part of the legend of the American West.
Pony Express Home Station
Learn about the history, the riders, and the stories behind this group that delivered mail news from Missouri to San Francisco in 1860 and 1861.
Pony Express Information
Here you can find lots of information and images of the pony express.
Pony Express Trail at
The origins and the reason for a horse-and-rider mail delivery system between east and west can be summed up in two words, slow mail.
The Pony Express at Gold Rush Chronicles
"Wanted - young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 a week. . ."
After visiting several of the websites below, complete one or more of the following activities:
Complete a Pony Express WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of these webQuest sites: 
1) The Pony Express
2) The Pony Express A Webquest
3) The Pony Express Webquest for Grade 4 Missouri History
4) Pony Express Grade 4
You Decide - Success or Failure? Now that you have reviewed the brief history of the Pony Express, decide if the venture was a failure or a success. Base your decision on all factors, not just the financial status. Consider the impact of the Pony Express; what, if any, were the lasting effects? Why is the Pony Express so well-remembered today? Make the argument for your case as strong as possible. What if the telegraph had not been invented?
Design an Express Delivery System - a 'Pony Express' for Today. Pretend that you are going to start up your own private express mail delivery service today, that there is a demand for a 'specialized' delivery system from Kansas City, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The exact mail contents must be kept secret. However, the travel must be restricted to land-based methods; because of the 'sensitive' nature of the items; air travel can not allowed. Packet weight will be under 10 pounds per shipment. Plan out the route to be followed. Consider a realistic delivery time; remember you must beat the competition. Hold down the budget! Select the mode(s) of transportation; what vehicles will be needed? Put together a complete startup plan that includes needed employees, equipment, time schedule, and itemized costs. Give your company a name and a logo. What would your company have to charge for each delivery?
Website By Kids For Kids
The Pony Express
Here you find photographs and information about the Pony Express.
More Pony Express Websites
1849 Nova Scotia Pony Express
Learn about a Canadian Pony Express, that preceded the U.S. version. Here you can read articles and reports of the high-speed courier service now known as the Nova Scotia Pony Express.
Related Website:
2) History and Importance of the Nova Scotia Pony Express
Founding of the Pony Express
Information on the history of the pony express from San Fransisco Museum.
Pony Express National Historic Trail (National Parks Service)
The National Park Service is currently developing a Comprehensive Management and Use Plan for the Pony Express National Historic Trail. When completed, it will describe the official auto tour route, list historic sites and cross-country segments, and make recommendations for resource protection, trail management and marking.
Pony Express at United States Postal Service
This article provides a brief overview of the pony express.
Related Website:
2) The Pony Express Rides Into History
The Pony Express (Pony Express Museum, St. Joseph, MO)
This brief page tells the history of the trail from the perspective of its origination point.
Similar Museum Websites:
2) The Pony Express (National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian)
3) The Patee House Museum
4) Pony Express History (Pony Express Museum)
5) When the Pony Express was in Vogue (Museum of the City of San Francisco)
The Pony Express by Debra K. Fly
When gold was discovered in California many people moved there. It could take up to six months for their letters to reach the people back home. There had to be a better way to move the mail faster.
Pony Express Articles  
1) Pony Express by Steve Goldman
2) History of the Pony Express
3) The Middle of Everywhere
Pony Express Poetry
A group of poems by Dave Rhoades on the Pony Express.
Pony Express Rider
This is a photograph of Frank E. Webner, a pony express rider, c. 1861.
Pony Express Stations in White Pine County, Nevada
Learn the history of the trail through a part of Nevada.
Not To Be Missed Section:
2) A Short History of the Pony Express and Overland Mail in White Pine County, Nevada
Similar Websites:
3) The Pony Express in Nemaha County (Kansas)
4) History of Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site (Kansas)
Websites for Teachers
Ghost Riders and Rest Stops (A Utah Centennial Lesson Plan)
In this lesson series, students gain information about the Pony Express and Overland Stage and examine why small communities or rest stops 'popped' up along the trail.
The Pony Express (Grade 4-6)
Here are lesson plans, maps, music, a play script, and an interactive quiz for teaching students about the Pony Express.
The Pony Express: Social Studies/Math Activity (Houghton Mifflin Company)
In this activity, students plot the route of the Pony Express, discover the kinds of terrain it crossed and calculate the number of legs needed to cover the distance of its total route.
Similar Lesson Plan:
2) Math/Social Studies Activity-The Pony Express (Grade 4)
St. Joseph, MO
gold rush
'Running Pony'
pony express
April 3,1860
October 24, 1861
Civil War
Alexander Majors
mail delivery
William B. Waddell
1966 miles
Platte River
South Pass, WY
Oregon-California Trail
ten days
Salt Lake City, Utah
10 to 15 miles
relay system
Broncho Charlie Miller
Russell, Majors and Waddell
private carrier
Butterfield's Overland Mail
William Russell
Carson City, Nevada
home station
San Francisco, CA
'Pony Bob' Haslam
Buffalo Bill Cody
transcontinental telegraph
Sierra Nevada Mountains
continental divide
 Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99 Updated, 4/00, Update by Nancy Smith 10/02