Pony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010)

The Pony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010) is Nevada State Historic Marker #271 is located in Churchill County, Nevada. From Fallon drive head east on US 50 for 15 miles to Salt Wells Road. Turn south onto Salt Wells Road and travel for eight miles. This marker is the last historic marker approved by the the state of Nevada.

Pony express route April 3, 1860 - October 24, 1861 - Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942.
Pony express route April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861 – Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942.

A Brief History

The Pony Express started to fill a need caused by the growing populations of California. After the discovery of Gold in 1848, thousands streaked to the golden state to seek their fortune in the ground. Additional demand for mail service was caused from migration along the infamous Oregon Trail and the Utah Mormon exodus in 1847. Stage Service was used to transfer correspondence across the Western United States.

The service was built and organized by three men, William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. These men formed the company Russell, Majors & Waddell and in just two months in the winter of 1860 organized 184 stations, 80 riders and 400 hundred horse to race mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Some of the stations were existing stage stops while others were purpose built humble buildings deep in the Nevada territory. They hoped with a 10 day delivery time they could secure government contracts. The costs of the expedited service was 25000% greater that the slower stage service and a 1/2 package would cost $5 at the time.

Marker Text

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Pony Express was founded by W. H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell, operators of the Overland Stage Line of Leavenworth, Kansas. During a visit to Washington, Mr. Russell was urged by California Senator William Gwin to expand the Overland Stage operation to facilitate faster mail service. Mr. Russell’s partners hesitated due to the projected high costs; he persevered and the first ride began on April 3, 1860.

Overland stagecoach stations were located every 10-12 miles as far as Salt Lake City. Eighty skilled and experienced riders, 400 horses and approximately one hundred-eighty-four stations were located in Nevada from Utah (Deep Creek) to the California border (Genoa). The swift riders carried the mail 2,000 miles in 10 days from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The “Pony” improved nationwide communication, western expansion and was credited with California’s continued participation in the Union at the beginning of the Civil War.

A high price was paid for the improved communication, including the cost to post a letter and the trials of the employees during the ride. The cost of mailing a letter as advertised was not economical, “letters less than 1/4 oz cost $2.50; over 1/4 oz, not to exceed 1/2 oz cost $5.00 and so on.” The riders, station masters and division agents faced hostile environments including poor housing, extreme heat and cold, poor access to potable water, food and dangers due to the conflicts between the Tribes and the new comers to the west.

On October 24, 1861, the telegraph was born and the last ride was completed. What had taken ten days could be achieved in ten seconds thus ending the Pony Express but the memory of the riders and the route live on.


Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NamePony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010)
LocationChurchill County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.287541, -118.571526
Nevada State Historic Marker Number271


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