Kansas Trivia

Failed Business Ventures of the Old West - August 29, 2014

Q: Just north of Hanover, Kan., you’ll find Hollenberg Station, the last Pony Express stop in Kansas as riders traveled west to Sacramento. If you think postage is expensive now, guess how much it cost to mail a half-ounce letter on the Pony Express when it first opened in 1860.

PonyExpress KHSA Pony Express station and riders, between April 1860 and October 1861. The Pony Express was only in operation for about a year and a half before going bankrupt. (Image Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org)


 

A: $5

 

PonyExpress Hollenberg_KHSThe Hollenberg ranch house in Washington County, Kan. This house was built in 1857 by Gerat H. and Sophia Hollenberg, establishing a way station for travelers on the Oregon-California Trail, and from 1860 to 1861 they operated a Pony Express station. (Image Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org)

The Pony Express was only in operation for about a year and a half before going bankrupt. It lasted from April 1860 to October 1861. The famous mail delivery route ran for nearly 2,000 miles, from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif. Using 400 horses and nearly 100 riders, mail made it halfway across the country in just 8 to 10 days. When the service first began, it cost $5 to mail a half-ounce letter. Later, the price was dropped substantially, but the service was still doomed. Expansion of telegraph lines and the continental railroad soon made the Pony Express obsolete. Hollenberg Station, just north of Hanover, Kan., is a rare example of a Pony Express station that still stands unaltered in its original location. A visitor center with exhibits is located near the historic building. Both a state and national historic site, the Hollenberg Station is operated by the Kansas Historical Society.

FACTOID #1: Pony Express riders were paid about $100 to $125 per month. Not bad, considering the average worker made less than half that in 1860.

FACTOID #2: It’s estimated that during its short 19 months of operation, the legendary mail delivery service lost about $200,000.

 

More info HERE, HERE and HERE.

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