Pony Finances

Exactly what was the monetary worth of the Pony as a stake in this fabulous wager has been debated for years. At the outset, merely to equip the stations along the road with stock and provisions cost $70,000, according to an observation by Ben Holladay at the time. His conjecture on monthly expenses was that they would “foot up to $4,000, at least.” Long afterward, Alexander Majors simply dismissed the experiment as a loss of several hundred thousand dollars. In the spring of 1861, Russell said that, during four months of the preceding winter, the eastbound mail between San Francisco and Roberts Creek was run at a loss of over $10,000. At Sacramento, one of his contemporaries who had a mind for figures, calculated that depreciation on investment and operating expenses put the monthly cost at $52,200. An eastern newspaper set the cost at “only $500” for each trip. Scribes of later times have strived to find the elusive answer by subtracting an estimated half-million dollars in receipts from an arbitrary $700,000 in expenses.