1860-61 Pony Express

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Pony Express Station in Dayton, Nevada

The Pony Express passed through Dayton during its brief life of April 1860 to November 1861. The earliest Pony Express remount stop was at Spofford Hall’s Station (the site of which was consumed by a 1930s dredge pit). By 1861 the remount station was relocated to the site now occupied by the Union Hotel on Main Street, where it served as both a Overland Stage Station and Pony Express stop. A free-standing rock wall next to the Union remains.

From April 1860 to October 1861, dozens of brave young riders carried the U.S. mail by horseback on the Pony Express Trail , 1,800 miles between Sacramento, California and St. Louis, Missouri. Within eighteen months, three rider died. Today, Highway 50 roughly parallels the route of the Pony Express Trail.

Young Pony Express riders sat atop the fastest horses available and carried the mail in a special pouch saddle called a “mochila.” Each Pony Express rider would cover a certain distance to a relay station, where the next would grab the mochila and continue the journey across the Pony Express, until two thousand miles of wilderness had been crossed. Because speed was so important and extra weight avoided, the Pony Express riders were usually small men or boys armed with pistols instead of a rifle. Conflict with Native Americans, gangs of robbers and other troublemakers were common, and numerous riders died in the line of duty along the Pony Express Trail.

More information about the Pony Express Trail, and Pony Express Territory, can be found at PonyExpressNevada.com.