So I was thinking about what it was like working for the Pony Express and I am wondering was it an extremely dangerous job? I'm thinking that given the success of the Pony Express it must not have been extremely dangerous (otherwise people wouldn't have done it) but I am struggling to find good sources to confirm this suspicion.


By "Extremely Dangerous" I would say there was a good chance you wouldn't survive a year or something, say 1/5 died. I mean would you have to have been a crazy person to work for them. This is kind of the evidence I am looking for. High attrition rates from injury/death, etc.

  • 2
    Define extremely dangerous... It certainly depends on your point of view and most importantly what was considered dangerous at the time. Mar 1 '12 at 19:59
  • @Sardathrion thank you for the request for clarification.
    – ihtkwot
    Mar 1 '12 at 20:18

According to this inscription on a Pony Express marker only one out of 120 riders was killed in the 19 months. This would mean that the probability of getting killed on this job within a year was 0.5%. Then again - one death isn't anywhere near statistically significant.

I see little reason to doubt these figures that are repeated on many websites. The general tendency seems to be exaggerating the dangers and the achievements - so an inflated death count would have been more likely. The real chances weren't as bad it seems which is apparently why many texts prefer to talk about abstract "dangers" without backing it up with numbers. Nevertheless it was definitely not an easy job.

  • 2
    Don't forget about the other Pony Express employees who were killed in the course of their work. Several times stations were wiped out by Paiute attacks.
    – Joe
    May 16 '12 at 16:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.