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Commanders Quarters at Fort Bridger / Photo courtesy of


The Pony Express: A Romantic Failure

July 8-16, 2018

An Americana Field University Program

With the discovery of gold in California, a need for rapid communication between potential investors and vendors produced an early precursor to Federal Express and UPS—the Pony Express. The concept of operations was based around an endless run of riders changing horses and riders at relay stations. The system was designed to sprint alongside the Oregon and California Trails, making the 2,000-mile run in just 10 days. It was a spectacular financial bust, and yet few innovations captured the imagination and spirit of the Wild West.

Today we can retrace significant elements of the route and share the stories of an enterprise that will leave you in awe of the unforgiving landscape and the optimistic execution of the long, lonely route. Ultimately it was negated by the Civil War, and overcome by the development of the telegraph and transcontinental railroads. Come and join us.


Neil Mangum is one of the nation’s foremost historians and an expert on frontier life. A retired National Park Service official, he served as Superintendent at the Little Big Horn National Battlefield as it transitioned from Custer National Battlefield. The popular historian only allows himself four or five tours a year, and BGES is fortunate to enjoy his favor. He enjoys the clientele and the small folksy nature of the group that is usually well prepared. The author of The Battle of the Rosebud: Prelude to the Little Big Horn, he has a following. Most people on this trip will have traveled with him before, which makes this event even nicer.

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