Breaking news, the telegraph replaces the Pony Express. I wonder if this was a headline back in 1861 when the Pony Express went out of business, replaced by the latest innovation in communication of the time; the telegraph. It hasn’t quite gone that way in our time, when things just seem to fade out more than they abruptly end. Look at how many of us now use cell phones exclusively and have done away with a land line telephone. That hasn’t quite eliminated the use of land line phones but their business model has certainly suffered and I’m sure there will come a day when they just quietly vanish from the landscape.
On May 1st, 1844, about 16 years before the Pony Express came into being, its ending was already in the works when news of the nomination of Henry Clay at the Whig Party’s national convention was hand carried to Annapolis Junction and then wired by the partner of Samuel Morse, Alfred Vail, to the Capitol. This marked the first time news was wired by electronic telegraph. Western Union opened for business in 1851 and in 1861, completed its first transcontinental telegraph line which put the Pony Express out of business.
There were a lot of bumps and waves between the invention of the telegraph, way back in 1794 (a non-electric version), and the innovations added by Samuel Morse that would make it the most used form of communication in the 1860’s and you can read about them in these places on the Internet:
- The History of the Telegraph
- Electrical Telegraph: Wikipedia Article
- Build your own Morse Telegraph System (great project for kids)
If you are so lucky to own a copy of an old message transmitted by telegraph among your family treasures, please share it by posting on our Facebook page or sharing a link to it if you have it posted somewhere on the Internet. We would all love to see it!