The Pony Express
Buffalo Bill Cody, who later became famous for his Wild West Show, was a rider for the Pony Express and wrote of his experiences. We join Bill’s story as he is hired – at the age of 15 – to ride a section of the trail that lies in modern-day Wyoming:
. . .The next day he [Mr Slade, the manger of Cody’s Pony Express station] assigned me to duty on the road from Red Buttes on the North Platte, to the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater – a distance of seventy-six miles – and I began riding at once.
One day when I galloped into Three Crossings, my home station, I found that the rider who was expected to take the trip out on my arrival had got into a drunken row the night before and had been killed; and that there was no one to fill his place. I did not hesitate for a moment to undertake an extra ride of eighty-five miles to Rocky Ridge, and I arrived at the latter place on time. I then turned back and rode to Red Buttes, my starting place, accomplishing on the round trip a distance of 322 miles.
Slade heard of this feat of mine, and one day as he was passing on a coach he sang out to me, ‘My boy, you’re a brick, and no mistake. That was a good run you made when you rode your own and Miller’s routes, and I’ll see that you get extra pay for it.’
Slade, although rough at times and always a dangerous character – having killed many a man – was always kind to me. During the two years that I worked for him as pony-express-rider and stage-driver, he never spoke an angry word to me.