President Buchanan’s farewell message was carried in seven days, 19 hours; and news of Lincoln’s election was relayed in just eight days.

Enthusiastic California business men often rewarded riders with special purses made up as a means of spurring them on to greater achievements.

True-life heroics of the riders were many. “Pony Bob” Haslam, for example, finding his stations burned by Indians, rode 380 miles through the savage wilderness until he could relay the mail at the next station intact. One of the best known riders was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who came to be a personification of the Old West.

A man claiming to be “Bronco Charlie” Miller, the last of the Pony Express riders, died recently in New York at the age of 105. “Bronco Charlie” became a Pony Express rider in 1861 at the age of eleven. He and his father were in Sacramento, the western terminus of the route, when another rider was needed.

Charlie “volunteered” when his father lifted him to the empty saddle. In 1877 he was wounded by Indian arrows. In 1931 he astounded horsemen by riding the same mount from coast to coast. In 1948 he appeared in a Scout-0-Rama at New York’s Madison Square Garden in plainsman’s dress – buckskin shirt, cloth trousers, high boots and broad-brimmed hat.

Before he died the California Historical Society exposed this “Bronco Charlie” Miller as an imposter. The real Bronco Miller had died before the turn of the century and was buried near Marysville, California. But New York’s Bronco maintained till the last that it just wasn’t so. The old fellow’s imagination had been so fired and he had lived the story so long that he believed it himself.

While the Pony Express was providing excitement and speedier mail service for the American public, work was underway on the transcontinental telegraph line. In October, 1861, when the line from the Missouri River on the east, and the line from Placerville, Calif., on the west met at Salt Lake City, the Pony Express passed into history, leaving behind a record unsurpassed for romance, enterprise and adventure.

And today at many of the old Pony Express stations along the Central Route from St. Joseph to Sacramento can be seen words and pictures carved in stone-monuments to men of courage and men of daring, and the valiant horses which carried them into immortality!

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