From 25 Days to 25 Seconds – Now That’s Progress!

Courtesy of Library of Congress

This week, in 1858, the Overland Mail Company completed its first mail service between the east and west coasts of the U.S.   Congress had already passed an act in early 1857 that authorized an “overland mail delivery service” to reliably transport mail.  The first one that could make it happen would be the one who received the $60,000 subsidy.  Overland Mail Company was successful on September 15, 1858.  Part of the need for this type of mail delivery was due to the 1849 Gold Rush in California.  Americans, always known for our need to know and quick, couldn’t wait for information to flow between families that were located on both coasts.  At that time, “quick communication” took 25 days – the time it took to travel, by horse and carriage, from one coast to another.

Interestingly, one of the directors on the Overland Board was none other than William Fargo, of the Wells-Fargo conglomerate.  He and the board used the first $60,000 it received to place “building way stations” every ten to fifteen miles along the route the mail traveled.  Using horses, custom created coaches began the back and forth 2,800+ mile journey that delivered mail and people (up to nine per coach) anywhere along the route.  Imagine sharing a relatively small space with bundles of mail, several other people, no protection from the elements –including rain, heat and dust and along a very bumpy route for days at a time.

Of course, it wasn’t long before the Pony Express and what was then named “Wells, Fargo and Company” became the preferred carrier and it remained that way until 1869, when railroads were constructed and mail and passengers began using this much faster method of transport.

And now, we can easily send email, text messages and make phone calls within seconds – anywhere in the world. If we’re on the east coast and wondering what’s going on in that crazy state of California, it’s simply a matter of finding street cams in whatever city we’re interested in or better still, Skyping our friend who’s vacationing there and asking them to turn their computers to face the ocean – and instantly, it’s like we’re there.  Well, maybe not exactly “there”, but rest assured, with minds like Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, you know it’s just a matter of time.

So next time your “send/receive” button isn’t working fast enough, remember, an extra two seconds is nothing compared to 25 days.


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