Nova Scotia Pony Express

In 1849, a significant reduction in the time required to bring the latest news from Europe to the reading public in North America was brought about by an innovative combination of technologies:

The Associated Press had been founded in 1848 to do this kind of innovative work, initially splitting the costs among six prominent New York news papers.

The AP provided significant funding for the extension of the telegraphfrom Maine to Saint John, and simultaneously organized what is now known as the "Pony Express" to speed the dispatches across Nova Scotia to the Fundy.

This Pony Express ran from 21 February 1849 until the telegraph was completed through to Halifax on 15 November 1849. It made 20 trips, and the AP paid $1000 in 1849 US dollars for each of the 20 trips during those nine months. News from Europe was eagerly sought by the reading public, as much was happening in Europe in 1848 and 1849 and much of the population of North America was either immigrant or first-generation North American.

The great success of this venture provided a fine start for the Associated Press, which continues today to collect news around the world and disseminate it rapidly.

The horses used were the finest available. There was a fresh horse available about every twelve miles, and the rider would walk around briefly at horse changes to get his circulation back. Riders were changed at Kentville, so each rider rode around 72 miles in around four hours. There is a colorful bit of poetry written long ago on one of the walls of the old Sinclair Inn in Annapolis Royal, attributed to one of the returning pony express riders (they took their time on the return trips); it indicated among other things that a portion of his anatomy was sore.

xp-nova-scotia-b The trip, over the Old Post Road, was not an easy one, and was run at high speed day and night. The galloping horses provided quite a spectacle for area residents, and running so fast day and night resulted in some hair-raising incidents.

On one occasion, a stirrup broke. The rider was thrown and knocked out. He got up a few minutes later, limping with one injured leg, and mounted his horse and galloped off with only one stirrrup.

On another occasion, a horse struck a beam at night in the covered bridge over the Avon River. The horse was killed instantly and the rider was knocked out. Others came and said the rider was up after about fifteen minutes, staggered around for another few minutes, mounted a new steed they provided him, and was on his way.

In a third incident, a rider at night was astonished when his steed gave a mighty leap while crossing the swing bridge at Lower Horton. What the horse had seen, and the rider had not, was that the bridge was not in place that night. The horse had leaped 18 feet of open water and landed safely on the other side. The rider wasn't sure what had happened until he came through on the trip back.


And there's much more here!