Pony Express Riders: Teenagers

Figure 1.--Richard E. Egan (1842-1919) was born in Massachusettes. He was 5 years old when the family made the treck west to Utah. He was one of the teenagers attracted by the Pony Express ads. Richard was 17 years old when he signed up. He was a little old to be a rider, but was an experienced horseman and knew the area well. He was the first rider to carry the Pony Express mail from Salt Lake City to Rush Valley. He continued with the Pony Express for the entire 18 months duration.

Most of the Pony Express riders were teenage boys. They had to be because weight was all imortant. One rider was 11 years old. That was unusual. almost all of the riders were teenagers, and not older teens. An ad for Pony Express riders read, "Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." That was notbaann ad that would attract many responses today. At the time, many youth signed up. The work was exciting and the pay good. The reason boys were preferred was that they did not weigh as much as adult riders and the horses could thus sustain faster speeds, the same reason that jockeys in horse raising have to be small. An adult man would have tired out the horses. Slender youth mean that that the horses could gallop at full speed to the next station. The boys faced Native Americans, expert horsemen themselves, drought, and blizzard. Quute a few riders were lost. But most survived, many of which then enlisted to fight in the Civil War.


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Created: 3:56 AM 11/16/2013
Last updated: 3:56 AM 11/16/2013