Happily, as it turns out, for the Pony Express, the Central Overland Trail was also developed as a stagecoach and mail-by-mule route by a hardworking competitor, George W. Chorpenning. Chorpenning held the federal contract for mail and stagecoach service between Salt Lake and San Francisco when Pony Express agents came sniffing around, looking for opportunity. The U.S. Post Office abruptly canceled his contract in May 1860, about a month after the Pony Express started operations, due in part to behind-the-scenes conniving by the Pony and others hoping to grab that contract for themselves. Even while Chorpenning’s “Jackass Mail” was still up and braying — and without a government contract in hand, itself — the Pony took over his route, brazenly moved into his stage and mail stations, seized his livestock and equipment, and hired away some of his key employees. Chorpenning brought a claim before Congress for his losses, but was still uncompensated when he died in 1894. Meanwhile, the Pony Express would share its pirated route and assets with a passenger, freight, and “heavy mail” stage line operated by its parent company, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Co.