Emergency Test of the Pony Express

In mid-march, 1860, Jules Beni shot Jack Slade, superintendent of the division, in Julesburg and left him for dead.

“Now, less than three weeks before the scheduled opening of the Pony Express, the new relay system would be put to the test under emergency conditions. Rider J.K Ellis was saddled up and dispatched to Fort Laramie, 175 miles to the northwest, in the hope that a relay horse would await him at each of the stations planted at ten-mile intervals. Fort Laramie represented the nearest legal authority; more important at this moment, it housed a military surgeon who held the only chance to save Slade’s life. . . .

J.K. Ellis made the 175-mile ride to Fort Laramie to fetch a surgeon in eighteen hours. ‘I believe,’ he later remarkes, ‘it breaks the record for a straightaway ride by a single individual.'”

Dan Rottenberg, Death of a Gunfighter, p. 184