Pony Express Stations

From St. Joseph to Fort Kearny, Fort Bridger to Rush Valley, and from Carson City to Sacramento, most of the stations were located in fairly good country and were reasonably comfortable. All others were situated in deserts where conditions were unbelievably harsh and difficult. Some of these were constructed of adobe bricks in the middle of endless, dreary wastes, and others of loose stones in isolated, treeless canyons and unnamed hills. Still others were mere holes dug in the hillside with crude additions in front.

All of them, except those most favorably located, had dirt floors; window glass was unknown; the beds were pole bunks built against the walls, and the furniture consisted of boxes, benches, or anything else the ingenuity of the occupants could contrive. Most of them had water nearby, such as it was, and the stable for horses was only a few feet distant from the quarters of the men.

The food provided the stations was not of a quality designed to tickle the palate of an epicurean. It consisted of cured meats, mostly bacon, dried fruits, beans, bread baked upon the spot, molasses, pickles, corn meal when it could be had, and coffee. Fresh meat was a rarity, even in regions where wild animals were numerous, because nobody had time to hunt. Sometimes the wagon trains, which appeared about once a month with supplies, brought along a few delicacies, but these were never plentiful. Those trains also hauled hay and grain for the horses, and space, was always at a premium. Nobody thought of stinting them, no matter what the cost might be, or how short rations for the men were.