Pony Express - Cloze

Activity set by Veronica Curlette (Wikipedia CC)

First, do these activities: verbs, nouns and other. Then, do this Cloze. Listen to the MP3 recordings if necessary: MP3 slow, MP3 fast. Fill in all the gaps with the missing words, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. Click the this button again for another letter. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints! Finally, do the Quiz.

Primero, haz las actividades de vocabulario. Luego escucha la grabación si es necesario. Rellena los espacios en blanco con las palabras que faltan. Haz click en "Check" para comprobar tus aciertos. Si te resulta difícil la respuesta utiliza el botón "Hint" y te revelará una letra de la casilla en la que te encuentres, puedes clickear varias veces en "Hint" y te dará cada vez una letra más de la palabra. Para obtener ayuda también puedes clickear en el botón "[?]" y te dará una pista. Perderás puntos con las pistas. Luego haz el Cloze y el Quiz.

Slow:     Fast:
   breakdowns      covering      dangers      driven      endurance      exhausted      faced      forts      galloping      hardy      light      load      manner      per      razed      remote      replaced      responsibilities      risk      route      stagecoaches      standing      threatened      unreliable      villages      wage      wealthy      wiry   
One of the many great business ideas to come out of 19th century America was the Pony Express. It was a mail service between St. Joseph, Missouri in the east to Sacramento, California in the west, almost two-thousand miles, (3,200 kilometres). The first mail was delivered in April of 1860.

The Pony Express, a privately owned company, delivered the mail by men riding horses instead of the government mail service which used slow moving . Stagecoaches were used at this time to carry passengers travelling across the country. They would stop often and for long periods of time. The stagecoaches would stop in towns to let passengers on and off, and unload their luggage, and to allow the passengers an hour or two to refresh themselves. The stagecoaches also suffered from many taking days to repair. Because the passengers were often , they were also subject to robberies from outlaws. The mail took months to reach its final destination and was very .

The Pony Express, however, was very reliable and mail going across the country from Missouri to Sacramento, or in the other direction, was delivered in ten days in the summer and less than sixteen days in the winter. This mail system used over 400 horses, at least 186 riders and had 165 stations. The cost of sending a letter was originally five dollars half ounce, (fourteen grams), but was reduced to one dollar by the end of the Pony Express business. This was still considered quite expensive. One dollar in 1861 is approximately equal to twenty-six dollars today, (2013).

The horse and rider had no other than the mail. They were of little concern to outlaws because the outlaws knew that the riders only carried mail and water and were not interested in robbing them. The Pony Express riders were also not by Indian attacks because the rider could gallop past Indian at speeds which made it impossible for the surprised Indians to catch them. In the history of the Pony Express only one rider was reported to have been killed.

The riders would begin at one end of the and change horses at stations which were placed every ten to fifteen miles (16-24 kilometres) apart. The horses galloped at ten miles an hour from one station to the next. (A horse can gallop for about an hour before it becomes .) The rider would jump off the exhausted horse and hop onto a fresh one at the next station and continue along the route in this changing horses at every station. After seventy-five to one hundred miles, (120-160 kilometres), and eight to ten horses, the rider himself would be by a new rider, who would take the mail sack, (called a mochila), from the previous rider, jump on a new horse and continue along the route.

There were two types of station. The stations which were only used to change horses were called “swing stations” and the ones in which the riders ate and slept were called “home stations”. The stations were often part of existing buildings such as hotels or military . Other stations were newly constructed for the Pony Express. These newly built stations were in places along the route and were constantly under threat of attack from outlaws or Indians. The men who worked at the stations, called station agents, faced far more than the riders because they were alone at the station houses for long periods of time. Many of the agents at these remote stations were killed and many stations were burned down by attacks.

At the beginning of the Paiute Indian war, the swing station at Williams, Nevada was attacked. Five agents were killed and the station was . The war was started because the white men from the gold rush were very abusive towards the Paiutes. The Paiute war continued through the summer of 1860. Seven more stations were burned to the ground, 16 employees of the Pont Express killed and 150 horses were off. The life of a station agent was not easy.

Although the riders were not as vulnerable as the station agents, they also many dangers along their routes. One concern the riders faced was to arrive at a station, find it burned down and agents killed. The rider would have to continue along the route on the same horse hoping that the next station would still be .

The riders were typically small, -weight, young men. A famous advertisement for Pony Express riders asked for young, skinny, fellows not over eighteen. The advertisement also stressed that the riders be experts who were willing to death and further stated that orphans were preferred.

William Cody, who is also known as Buffalo Bill, was only fifteen when he started riding for the Pony Express. The youngest known rider was only eleven. The riders were well paid and received one hundred dollars a week, which was a very good for the time, (over 2500 dollars in today´s money). It is interesting to compare the wages of other casual workers in the 1860´s who received one dollar a day.
The horses, although not exactly ponies, were small like their riders. Horses were chosen for their speed and . Thoroughbreds and morgans were used on the eastern side of the route, pintos in the middle and the mustangs were used on the rugged western end of the route.

In October of 1861, when the Western Union began its telegraph service, the Pony Express became obsolete and closed its doors of business.