Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Pony Express In Oakland


The Pony Express, an express mail service operated by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. It ran a route from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, and had further extensions through Oakland in to San Francisco. The Pony Express operated from April 3, 1860 through October, 1861 and used relays of fast horses to carry messages across the western United States. During the eighteen months that it operated it was the fastest and most efficient means to get a message from coast to coast, reducing the travel time for the message to approximately ten days. Truth be told, only half of this distance was covered by couriers, with telegraph service offering communication through the more populous eastern states and riders being used west of Missouri.

Oakland was host to a Pony Express ferry when the couriers missed the steamship that generally carried them and the mail down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. In the rare instance that a courier was not able to board the steamer, then they made the trip overland from Sacramento to Oakland, roughly a ten hour trip on horseback, and boarded a steam ferry, the Oakland, that carried them across the bay.

Getting There By Bike...
The monument to the Pony Express and the ferry Oakland is located in Jack London Square at the foot of Broadway. Ride down Broadway until you hit the water, find the small staircase leading down into the estuary, and there's the memorial plaque.

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