I’m biking east along I-80 and today I’m visiting Pony Express Station & Museum in Gothenburg, Nebraska. I travelled more than 80km this 3 day weekend, including one 48km trip, so I’m here a lot earlier than I originally anticipated.
Pony Express was a courier service in 1860. They built 184 horse stations along the road from near Kansas City to Sacramento, and by changing a horse at every station, they were able to deliver mail in 10 days between those two places, and I was told that was the fastest service in their days. 10 days! Now that I’m biking, I appreciate the vast distance involved better than back when I was just flying over.
The other thing about Pony Express was that they went from a concept to a launch in just 3 months, in business only for 18 months, never turned a profit, and they folded when a telegram line connected two coasts. It’s beyond me how you hire 80 riders, purchase 400 horses, and arrange 184 stations in 3 months, especially when it takes more than 10 days for information to travel from one end of the line to the other. Amazing execution and spectacular failure. Go big or go home. I guess they were a startup back in the days and this was the hyperloop of the day.
Digging further into the timeline, I learned that just two months after they launched the service, Congress enacted Pacific Telegraph Act, which funded the transcontinental telegraph line, which only took 3 months to construct. I just think about the sinking feeling they must have had. Here you are, you invested a lot of capital upfront, launched a service, only to discover a few months later that the government has authorized a new technology that completely obliterates your value proposition. Ouch.
1860 is not too far away from the time frame Red Dead Redemption is set. That was a game I played with fascination, and its graphics has mesmerized me. I’m thinking about reading some history books about this era. Any recommendations are appreciated.
I’m basically half way through Nebraska. Still 400km to Omaha.