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Pony express book report

That put the Pony down for good. Much of that is easily explained by the odd chronology of the tale. The Pony Express was short-lived and its financial collapse essentially ruined its backers. One explanation is simply that they did not keep many records; the other is that they destroyed whatever records they had to avoid creditors.

Both Russell and Waddell died within a decade of the end of the Pony Express and never wrote a word about their exploits. Majors, an honest-to-God pioneer in western freighting on the fabled Santa Fe Trail, survived. But Majors, a simple man who was a devout Bible reader, did not compose his memoirs until the end of the 19th century. When he did, his life story was ghostwritten or at least heavily edited by Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, a fabled dime novelist and hack.

Majors later complained that Colonel Ingraham had taken liberties with the story. Despite the best efforts of enthusiasts, we are not even sure exactly who rode for the Pony Express. Majors said that he had 80 men in the saddle, but this was not the modern American space program.

It seems plausible, and many personal anecdotes support this theory, that just about anyone could ride for the Pony if they were available and the Pony needed a rider. Dramatic images and every painter in America from Frederic Remington to those who wished to be Remington painted the Pony Express always show a rider at full gallop pursued by Indians or desperadoes.

But the few remaining riders who were actually interviewed late in their lives never mentioned Indians or desperadoes. They always complained about the weather, understandable if you were riding a horse across western Nebraska or Wyoming in January at night in a snowstorm. They also complained bitterly about not being paid.

Wags in the American West claimed that the initials C. The first chronicler of the Pony Express was Colonel William Lightfoot Visscher, a peripatetic newspaperman but not a colonel who drifted across the American West in the late 19th century. He is, on reflection, a perfect chronicler for such a tale. He never let the facts get in the way of anything he wrote. Anyone wondering how the story of the Pony Express became muddled need only consider that it took half a century to write a book about the subject, and its author was a dubious chronicler.

A terrible liar, a drunkard, a bad poet and a rascal, Visscher bore an amazing resemblance to comedian W. The colonel was a delightful if completely unreliable historian. We have no idea where he got most of his information, although he appears to have cribbed a fair bit of it from the few early attempts to set down some facts about the Central Overland.

Historians of the Pony, such as there have been, have always ignored this jolly old lush, who drank two quarts of gin a day for much of his life but lived to be Five years after the colonel took up his pen, along came Professor Glenn D. Bradley at the University of Toledo. The professor did not do much to help the story either, and then he went and got malaria while having a Central American adventure and died.

But then came several other books, also long on embellishment. This does not help sort out the fact from the fancy. It was well into the 20th century before anyone tried to interview any of the remaining old riders. They either remembered nothing of significance or their memories were fabulous, resulting in wild stories in which the Pony just got bigger and bigger each year in the retelling.

Raymond and Mary Settle made one of the few serious attempts to write a Pony Express history. Their book Saddles and Spurs: Saga of the Pony Express provides a solid overview but does not consider how the story of the Pony Express came to be. They also failed to recognize that Russell, if not the other owners of the firm, was a con man and rascal of the worst sort. They make no mention of Colonel Visscher, either. But his descendant decided that a spot of revisionism was in order.

Burton went down the line of the Pony Express in the summer and fall of , the first credible eyewitness to the venture. A seasoned military man, he took copious notes, and after spending a mere days in the American West produced a page account of his adventures, City of the Saints. Burton provides us with the best solid information we have about conditions along the line. One year later, while Burton was writing his account in London, no less a chronicler of America than Mark Twain appeared on the scene.

Clemens had gone West in a Concord coach with his brother Orion, who was on his way to be secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada. Like Burton, the brothers left from St. Joe, probably from the Patee House, headquarters of the Pony Express.

His description is one of the most powerful bits of eyewitness testimony we have:. Every neck is stretched further, and every eye stretched wider. Away across the endless dead level of the prairie a black speck appears against the sky, and it is plain that it moves. Well, I should think so!

So sudden is it all, and so like a flash of unreal fancy, that but for the flake of white foam left quivering and perishing on a mail sack after the vision had flashed by and disappeared, we might have doubted whether we had seen any actual horse and man at all, maybe. But writing from memory and without notes a decade later in Hartford, Conn. While Burton loathed the West, complaining nonstop of fleas and flies and filth and Indians and stupid Irishmen, Twain had a grand time.

But both writers left us a lot of solid information — what sort of food the men ate, the clothing they wore and descriptions of the stations, most of which were hovels — that is not available anywhere else. In essence, Buffalo Bill saved the memory of that enterprise. Not only Americans became dramatically acquainted with the Pony Express through Buffalo Bill; Europeans from penniless orphans in London let into the show because of kind-hearted Cody to Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm and the pope in Rome had the same pleasure.

Never shy of embellishing his past, Cody always claimed to have ridden for the Pony Express — and ridden the longest distance, too! That claim, however, like so many of his yarns, is highly dubious see accounts of his alleged Pony adventures in a related story, P. The best examination of his boyhood, undertaken by a forensic pathologist with an interest in history, would seem to indicate that Cody never sat in the saddle for the Central Overland.

He did, however, do a great deal for the memory of the Pony Express. Without his devotion, it is unlikely that anyone would remember the horseback mail service. Students of the story of the Pony Express will note that its memory waxes and wanes. In about on the occasion of its centennial, the memory was sweetened when the Eisenhower administration Ike was from Kansas, Pony Express country festooned the West with historic markers recalling the days of saddles and spurs.

Like so much of the memory of the Pony Express, the more one knows about the story, the more fractured and fabulous it becomes. There is hardly a gift shop or historic shrine between Old St. The company recruited daredevils, placing eye-catching notices in the St.

Young, Skinny, Wiry fellows not over Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. In the s, a remnant of what had been the U. Frankly, in the 21st century we do not have horsemen or women who can ride like that any longer. Men are not born in the saddle now, and even the most accomplished modern equestrian could not take the mochila from Fort Churchill to Robbers Roost.

The annual reenactment is a wonderful thing to witness. To stand on the edge of a rain-soaked field in central Nebraska and see the lone figure of a man on a galloping horse appear on the distant horizon is still a stirring sight. It is the sight that inspired Mark Twain so long ago. It is the memory that Buffalo Bill Cody loved. Hollywood has always been especially kind to the memory of the Pony Express.

As might be expected, just about all references to it in film and there were silent films as early as the turn of the last century featuring the Pony Express are wrong. There is not a shard of fact in the entire film. Hickok actually worked for the firm but merely as a stock tender in Nebraska. Several years ago, the film Hidalgo featured a wild tale of Frank Hopkins, a self-proclaimed equestrian who said that he rode for the Pony Express. The memory of the Pony Express remains sweet.

In the years in which I attempted to follow its trail, I met dozens, perhaps hundreds of Americans, who believe that their great-great-grandpas rode for the Pony, as the old-timers in the West still affectionately call it. Joseph to Sacramento. A cursory examination of early 20th-century newspapers in the American West will amply illustrate that they regularly reported the death of the last Pony Express rider. This time he was Jack Lynch. The Reno Evening Gazette frequently dusted off the story, one of the best being the news of the death of James Cummings, the last of the Pony Express riders, dead at age 76 on March 3, Miller was a delightful end piece to the story of the Pony Express.

He claimed to have been born on a buffalo robe in a Conestoga wagon going west in His claims to have ridden for the Pony — a run that would have taken him up from Sacramento over the Sierra Nevada and down into Carson City, Nev.

He would have been 10 or But America forgave him. Pony Express purists and doubters regularly challenged the old boy, but they never laid a glove on him. He refused to even acknowledge that there were purists and doubters of his tales. America loved Broncho Charlie Miller, whether he was telling the truth or not.

When Miller was an old man — 82 if we believe his birth date — he rode an old horse named Polestar from New York City to San Francisco to remind America, lest it forget, that the Pony Express had once brought the mail. People stood in the streets and cheered to see the old man loping along.

He took a crazy, circuitous route that did not follow the route of the Pony Express and rode hundreds of miles into the Southwest. Go figure. Despite all the rascals and scamps associated with the story of the Pony Express, admirers of the bold venture will be cheered to learn that there were actual heroes. An Englishman who came to Utah as a teenager at the time of the Mormon migration, Haslam rode for the Pony in Nevada at the time of the Paiute War, making a fabled ride of nearly miles without relief.

Haslam was the real deal. We have a vivid eyewitness account in the Territorial Enterprise , the newspaper where Mark Twain cut his teeth, of a race on the Fourth of July in This account leaves no doubt that Haslam was a fabled Pony Express rider in his day and that he was a great horseman.

Another of those Americans who helped to save the true story of the Pony Express, or at least as true as it could be, was Mabel Loving. Loving was an amateur poetess in St. She was a terrible poet but a prolific one, as bad poets often are Colonel Visscher was a prolific bad poet, too. She sat down and began to write to the few surviving members of the Pony Express. Her correspondence with those riders provides us with some of the richest detail we have about that mail service. This article was written by Christopher Corbett and originally appeared in the April issue of Wild West.

For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Wild West magazine today! Jackson listed the names and locations of relay stations along the nearly 2,mile Pony Express route in an illustrated map marking the Pony centennial. Pony Express Museum, St. Young Robert Haslam started as a simple laborer, building way stations for the fledgling Pony Express, but he was soon offered an opening as an express rider—an offer he eagerly accepted and a job at which he quickly excelled.

On May 10, , he left his home base at Fridays Station—on the present-day border between California and Nevada—and had little difficulty on his mile run east to Bucklands Station. But by the time the wiry year-old completed his assigned run, the situation had changed. Must be expert pony riders willing to risk death daily. The Northern Paiutes were on the warpath, just one month after the Pony Express began service, and the next rider scheduled refused to get in the saddle. Haslam, however, remained undeterred by the Indian scare.

Riding over alkali flats and parched desert, he pushed through to Smith Creek, where, after miles, he slid off of his pony for a brief rest before making the even more harrowing return run. Arriving at Cold Springs, Haslam found that the Paiutes had burned the station, killed the keeper and run off the relief horses.

His dedication was exceptional, but he was not alone. Many Pony riders were willing to risk their backsides to deliver the mail in a timely fashion. It has been years since one of the most remarkable enterprises in American history carried the mail and the day. Yet, most of us can easily imagine these lone young riders racing the wind across the open plains, fleeing Indian pursuers. Yes, the Pony Express still stirs the imagination, conjuring a romantic but gritty picture.

Look a little closer, though, and something else becomes clear: The Pony Express was, despite the Herculean efforts of Pony Bob and his fellows, also a terrible flop. It is not difficult to find a failed business whose name lives on long after its collapse. What is remarkable is for a failed business to be remembered not for its disappointing performance but for its determination and grit. For such a venture to be romanticized, commemorated and held in awe by the public is high praise indeed.

That is the legacy of the Pony Express. On the sesquicentennial of the first ride and, on that of the last ride, less than 19 months off , much of the nation is celebrating and singing the praises of a small group of men—many of them mere boys—who set out to provide a service that ultimately proved an economic failure. The Pony Express started out as a very good idea. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Pony Express.

Jun 17, D. An MM. Non - Fiction Story MM. Joe, Missouri to Sacramento, Ca. The first rides were made after the Civil War and continued until the telegraph was finished coast to coast. Is was not a safe job. It was a very dangerous job. This is an excellent read for the genre Jo-Anne Kinoshita rated it did not like it Mar 07, Ron Swanson rated it really liked it Jun 21, Camp rated it it was amazing Oct 13, Simon Taylor rated it really liked it Nov 29, Dianne Whitt rated it it was amazing May 14, Ronald Hughes is currently reading it Feb 27, Joe Sheehy marked it as to-read Apr 16, Jeri Armstrong added it Sep 12, Judi Jarnagin is currently reading it Oct 16, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Be the first to start one ». Readers also enjoyed. About Mike Mackessy. Mike Mackessy. Books by Mike Mackessy. Chandler Baker is a mystery writer who knows how to deftly turn sly observations of women's lives into Fresh from her

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Thank You to all I hope you had a safe and enjoyable ride. Saturday morning west of Seneca. From Susan Lousberg. Suzanne left Marysville in a downpour. Glad she had a raincoat! The rain eased up as the ride went on. We have plenty of time leaving Cold Springs Station to get the final leg of Section 7. I did have to make the tough decision to back out of an earlier section in 7 because my boys needed a good rest.

Kaity pitches a tent outside and I make a bed in the backseat of the truck. The boys are saddle-free and tied to the trailer eating away. I set the alarm for so I can check the Pinger and website to see when the pony might be here. We are scheduled to get it at am. I barely sleep due to the random texts that are coming in, Continue Reading. The riders carried mail from the Midwest to the West Coast in less than half the time a stagecoach could 24 days , and in a pinch, could go even faster.

In , riders traversed the westward route in seven days, 17 hours to get a copy of Abraham Lincoln 's inaugural address to California. The Pony Express was by far the most effective way to communicate cross-country at the time—at least until the telegraph came along. The Pony Express plays a bit of an oversized role in the popular imagination, considering how long it actually existed. Launched in April , it operated for less than 19 months before the first trans-continental telegraph line was completed, connecting California to East Coast cities, no ponies necessary.

The system officially shuttered on October 26, , and the last remaining mail was delivered soon after. Pony Express riders typically rode for 75 to miles at a stretch, but they changed horses many times over the course of their journey to ensure that their steeds could go as fast as possible. The stations were about 10 miles apart, and at every station, they changed mounts, swapping out their steeds up to 10 times a ride; the whole enterprise involved about horses.

However, those steeds may not have been ponies in the proper sense—by definition, ponies are small breeds of horse under Accounts of the types of horses used by the Pony Express vary; in his autobiography , Pony Express co-founder Alexander Majors wrote that "The horses were mostly half-breed California mustangs, as alert and energetic as their riders, and their part in the service sure-footed and fleet was invaluable.

Alexander Majors, alongside co-founders William Russell and William Waddell, had just two months to get the Pony Express up and running—a more complicated task than it might sound. They not only had to buy hundreds of horses, but build enough stations that riders could change horses every 10 miles or so—meaning more than stations across the West. The stations were usually located in remote areas decided by route efficiency rather than construction or supply convenience.

Contrary to myth, Pony Express riders weren't speeding across the landscape in cowboy hats wearing fringe-covered buckskins and toting guns. They were trying to minimize the weight their horse had to carry in every way, including in their dress. In Roughing It , Mark Twain who, we should note, was not always known for his adherence to the truth described seeing a rider for the Pony Express speed by wearing clothes that were "thin, and fitted close; he wore a 'round-about,' and a skull-cap, and tucked his pantaloons into his boot-tops like a race-rider.

Twain goes on to say that the rider was unarmed. Very few company records exist for the Pony Express, making it hard to confirm who was really involved. Much of what we know about the entire endeavor is myth, exaggerated and reworked in tales told long after the route was shut down.

Even first-person accounts tend to be full of inaccuracies—in one first-person recollection, for instance, a man who says he was born in claims he rode for the Pony Express for three years, ending in , 20 years after the last mail was delivered [ PDF ]. And the service's most famous rider, Buffalo Bill Cody , may not have even been a rider at all. Historians disagree on whether or not there's enough reliable evidence to prove whether or not he worked for the operation, which only employed about 80 men plus substitutes , according to the National Park Service.

But the Pony Express performances during his Wild West Show did significantly shape how history remembers the service. In his biography of the showman, Don Russell argues that he was, in fact, probably a rider, but that Cody undoubtedly made the Pony Express into a legend whether he was there or not. Pony Express riders were expected to be stand-up citizens, despite their later reputation as rough-and-tumble frontiersmen.

Pony Express co-founder Alexander Majors asked each of his employees to take an oath saying that they wouldn't curse, drink, or fight. Riders were required to sign the oath on the inside of the specially made Bibles Majors gave each of them. Contrary to his wishes, his riders likely ignored him. First of all, the leather-bound Bibles he wanted them to carry would have weighed riders down, when the whole point was to travel as lightly as possible to maximize speed.

And they probably didn't take the whole "no cursing" rule very seriously either. In , Sir Richard Burton remembered stagecoach drivers hired by Majors and subject to the same oath in his book The City of the Saints : "I scarcely ever saw a sober driver; as for the profanity … they are not to be deterred from evil talking even by the dread presence of a 'lady.

Pony Express riders didn't just throw a standard mail bag over the back of their saddle. They had mochilas designed specially for the Pony Express—ones that look nothing like some of the products now sold as "Pony Express saddlebags. Twain wrote that each of these locked pouches would "hold about the bulk of a child's primer," but they could still fit a surprising amount of mail for their size, because to keep loads light Major recalls a maximum of 10 pounds, while a former rider recalled 20 , the mail was printed on thin tissue paper.

There's no doubt that the route definitely ran through territory beset by conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans, but that may not have been the biggest danger. In , Corbett told NPR that in the few first-person accounts available in the historical record, original riders remembered the dangers of freezing during winter rides, especially if you strayed off the trail.


And last year at the Texas Library Association I got to meet Layne in person and actually watch him work on a painting right on the convention floor! And after spending some time with him, I feel like a made a lifelong friend. The First Ride of the Pony Express. An interview with Mike, some info about the illustrator, questions for readers to consider and discuss, and a list of projects that span the curriculum in addition to Reading : Writing, Music, History , Math , and Art.

Well researched with a bibliography, suggestions for further reading and related web sites, this book on the Pony Express is ideal for not just pleasure reading but for also doing the initial work for a school report. Spradlin narrates the story as a timeline, following the riders through the geography of the route during the eleven day trip. The action often moves towards the reader as if it would burst out of the book. Stampeding buffalo thunder straight on.

The romance of the Pony Express is part of the history of the West, but the reality is much more difficult to track down. According to author Spradlin, little is known about the riders outside of the first landmark ride that began on April 3, On that date Johnny Fry left St. Joseph, Missouri, for Sacramento, California, with a pouch of eighty-five pieces of mail.

Eleven days later Billy Hamilton was greeted in the streets of Sacramento by cheering crowds who heard about the riders and gathered to witness history. This picture book follows the route of the riders day by day as they move Westward, giving readers a sense of what life would have been like for the young men who rode the ponies for the seven months that the Express was in business.

More than anything else it is that one statistic that should be remembered; the Pony Express began in April, , and completed its last business on November 21, This book is well organized and well researched, providing historical details and dispelling romantic suppositions. This is a terrific resource for both elementary and middle school libraries.

Author Michael Spradlin highlights a short-lived but legendary piece of American history in his exciting and beautifully illustrated with paintings by Layne Johnson , Off Like the Wind. With a brief opening explanation of how the Pony Express came to be through the planning of three businessmen , Off Like the Wind then unfolds in play-by-play fashion as Spradlin follows the first riders cross county on their unprecedented journey.

There is no gratuitous violence here however, the final note explains that documented incidents between the riders and wildlife did occur and the Pah Ute raid against the Williams Station, a stopping point for the Express riders, did happen on May 7, So as dynamic as the story is presented, it is also historically accurate which gives it that much more power. The Pony Express is a perennially popular subject and Spradlin balances excitement and truth perfectly.

Legends are all well and good but when the facts are this exceptional, we do well to place them in such capable hands and let them speak for themselves. The book outlines the day journey of the mail between Missouri and Sacramento, highlighting the many challenges, hardships and adventures the riders faced while making the crossing. Told in a clear, easy-to-read narrative, the educational story would make a great addition to any classroom.

Joseph, Mo. For all its iconic status, the Pony Express lasted for only a year and a half before the transcontinental telegraph drew a sleeve across its windpipe, but it was an inventive enterprise full of bodacious frontier spirit, which this book plays to the hilt. This colorful and accessible picture book recounts the day-to-day adventures of Pony Express riders on the first transcontinental mail delivery system, from St. On the unprecedented journey, which took roughly 11 days, riders faced extremes in weather, buffalo stampedes, wolves, and encounters with Native tribes.

The straightforward text in combination with the larger-than-life panoramic oil spreads capture the romance, excitement, and danger that riders experienced along the trail. Balancing the right amount of information with lively narrative, this book could easily be used in a history unit or as a general interest title. Spradlin describes, day by day, the first eleven year run of the Pony Express, starting on April 3, The enterprise required planning, stamina, bravery and multiple skills, all of which, the detailed oil illustrations show in darkish hues.

After a brief introduction, the text uses present tense to describe the daily challenges of the riders. Here is where the first eastbound rider, Billy Hamilton, waits for the westbound mochila. Billy is the first rider to head east from Sacramento, and he will return there with the westbound mail. He is an experienced horseman and will need every bit of his skill to make it through this part of the trail through the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada range.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Pony Express was a mail-delivery system that used horse-and-rider relay teams to speed mail along a 2,mile route between St.

Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. While the company only operated for 19 months, beginning in April , it set a new standard for rapid mail delivery. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 11 pages. More Details Friend Reviews.

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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Pony Express. Jun 17, D. An MM. Non - Fiction Story MM.

Inthe first Pony Express rider set out on a trail from Missouri to California.

Pony express book report The other reason is more practical. They established a headquarters at the Patee House in St. The founders of the Pony Express pony express book report found that they were bankrupt. Raymond and Mary Settle made one of the few serious attempts to write a Pony Express history. The partners planned to fulfill the contract with their already established Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, of which the proposed Pony Express would be a subsidiary operation.
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Being late to work essay The outbreak of Civil War, contrary to expectations, also had a disruptive effect on government mail contracts. Pony Express purists and doubters regularly challenged the old boy, but they never laid a glove on him. Often the mochila contained only a couple of dozen letters. Ron Swanson rated it really liked it Jun 21, Author Michael Spradlin highlights a short-lived but legendary piece of American history in his exciting and beautifully illustrated with paintings by Layne JohnsonOff Like the Wind. But it also seemed romantic, even more so through the years, as trains, trucks and planes mechanized mail delivery. Nineteen months after launching the Pony Express, proquest dissertations purchase was replaced by the Pacific Telegraph line.

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For 18 months during the s the Pony Express delivered the mail between Missouri and California, its riders keeping to a grueling schedule, facing Indian. Book review: Pony Express thrills again in 'West Like Lightning' · "West Like Lightning," by Jim DeFelice, recounts the history and cultural. The Pony Express book. Read reviews from world's largest community for readers. The Pony Express was a mail-delivery system that used horse-and-rider rel.