In 1860, the freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell established a system of carrying mail from Missouri and points east to California in the fastest possible time.
Known as the Pony Express, this system utilized riders on horseback to carry a pouch of mail successively from one station to another where they could change horses. After so many stations, the rider would be replaced by another, rest and then ride back the other direction with mail going from west to east. Beginning in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Pony Express route soon joined the Oregon Trail and reached the Platte River just east of Fort Kearny, Nebraska. It followed the Platte westward on the south side of the river (see “Pony Express” on NPS.gov).