Horses are Out of Work!

Samuel F.B. Morse
Samuel F.B. Morse

October 24, 1861
The First Transcontinental Telegraph System was Completed

This horse is looking for work. On October 24, 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph system was completed. This communication advancement would soon spell the end for the horses and their riders working for the Pony Express. The telegraph system, invented by Samuel F.B. Morse, could transmit messages rapidly from coast to coast using the electronic dots and dashes of Morse code. Previously, the Pony Express had provided the fastest delivery of a message across America. What do you know about the Pony Express?

From St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, over 2,000 miles, a continual relay of the best riders and horses traveled day and night to deliver the mail. Two hundred riders, like William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, rode at a full gallop for shifts of 75 to 100 miles, changing horses every 10 to 15 miles at relief stations along the route. Some riders had to brave vast stretches of rugged terrain, icy mountain passes, and dry, hot deserts. During the summer, the trip took 10 days; in the stormy winter, 12 to 16 days–approximately half the time needed by stagecoach. Can you think of what was outdated by the telegraph system?

The Pony Express was outdated by the telegraph system, which was outdated by the telephone system, and now we have the Internet. Ask your family what they think is the fastest form of communication today and discuss what might come next.