The Pony Express certainly left a mark in the history of the United States. Although its time was short, it did carve out a great deal of the path that the transcontinental railroad took.
The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 expanded railroads in the west. The railroads had proved themselves effective during wartime efforts. The government expected to bolster the Union by connecting the valued resources of the west.
Following the Act, work began on a trans-continental railroad that would connect Council Bluffs, Iowa with San Francisco Bay. Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River, was a major stepping stone to several west bound trails.
The Union Pacific joined the Central Pacific, to much fanfare, on May,10, 1869. A special finished railroad tie made of local laurel was placed at the connection point and the final railroad spike, made of 17.6-karat gold was driven into a pre-bored hole in front of the huge crowd that had gathered there at Promontory Summit, Utah, with big locomotives belonging to the two railroads, facing one another.
This renowned trans-continental railway opened up the west.
William H. Jackson, a talented painter and photographer who was cuurently working in Nebraska, was awarded a commission to ride the new Union Pacific lines and connections in order to portray the train's splendid scenery for the railroad's promotional literature. Some of those illustrations are seen on this map.
This pictorial map showing the route of the Pony Express was published in 1951. It includes names and locations of relay stations along the route. This pictographic map is made available through the generous cooperation of the Union Pacific, the first transcontinental railroad, whose lines closely parallel most of the historic Pony Express Route.
Illustrations include Valley of the Great Salt Lake, Platte Bridge, Old Fort Laramie, Chimney Rock, Court House Rock, Sacramento passing Old Fort Sutter, through snow over the Sierras, relay station near Utah desert, buffalo in the valley of the Platte.
The text by Howard R. Driggs states: "Over this historic route daring young Americans on fleet horses sped night and day while other courageous men kept and supplied the stations along the far-flung, dangerous line. This pioneer fast mail service, maintained despite serious loss to its patriotic promoters, made a notable contribution to our national welfare. The Pony Express, following the direct northern route, brought our far west much closer to our east, thereby helping to hold our frontier territory with its treasures of gold in our union. It blazed the way for the overland stage to California, hastened the building of the first transcontinental railroad and telegraph and added one of the most stirring chapters to the history of America's making."