Pony Express and the Central Route

Keetley’s letter [in Visscher’s book] is so full of confusion and obvious mistakes that it would be easy to dismiss it completely. Colonel Visscher, as was his editorial practice, printed the entire letter without comment. He had come of age when journalists were paid by the column inch, and Keetley had written a nice long letter. Visscher tossed it into what the National Geographic later called “the buck-a-roo stew” that was to be the story of the Pony Express. It would be easy to ignore Keetley’s letter but for this observation:

The Pony Express was never started with a view to making it a paying investment. It was a put-up job to change the then Overland mail route which was running through Arizona on the southern route, changed to run by way of Denver and Salt Lake City, where Ben Holladay had a stage line running tri-weekly to Denver and weekly to Salt Lake. The object of the Pony Express was to show the authorities in Washington that by way of Denver and Salt Lake to Sacramento was the shortest route, and the job worked successfully, and Ben Holladay secured the mail contract from the Missouri River to Salt Lake, and the old southern route people took it from Salt Lake City to Sacramento. As soon as this was accomplished and the contract awarded, the pony was taken off, it having fulfilled its mission. Perhaps the war also had much to do with changing the route at the time.