His [Pony Expresses’] work—that’s an interesting point. It may be well to cast the account, to see just what he did do.
First, consider his speculating founder. For the optimistic, hopeful Russell he accomplished precisely nothing, except to help push him deeper into the mire of debt and, hence, disrepute, remitting to him only a timeless fame and memory.
As for the telegraph, it’s been said that the brass key followed in the Pony’s train, as he virtually pulled the wire ends together. Truthfully, the honor is not his; the staccato messages would have come anyway. . . .
Well, surely the Pony must be given credit as the forerunner of the Pacific Railroad, so profoundly forecast when Mayor Jeff Thompson slapped the hindquarter of the first impatient steed at St. Joseph. . . . No, Russell’s brief hope was only the predecessor, not the pathfinder, and neither the cause nor procurer, of the iron horse.
What, then, did the fame-ridden charger do? Plainly, he carried the mail. That was his means to the end, and the end was Russell’s gamble.