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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Frontier

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Pony Express, The

Historical Information
In all history no nation ever expanded as rapidly as the new United States. Railroads reached the Mississippi River as early as 1850, but it would take another twenty years before they linked the Atlantic to the Pacific. With the eruption of civil war it became essential to have a speedier link between Washington and California than that supplied by the Overland Stagecoach, or ships sailing around the Straight of Magellan. The freight firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell took up the challenge in the Spring of 1860 when it launched the "Pony Express."

The exploits of the Pony Express in carrying mail across 1800 miles of wilderness caught and held the imagination of the American people. And well it might! To accomplish this perilous task, the firm bought hundreds of fast Indian ponies; hired daredevil riders, such as the legendary William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who at the tender age of fourteen, covered some 320 miles in a mere twenty-one hours; and built some 150 way stations. Traveling day and night, across trackless desert and forbidding mountains, inhabited only by hostile Native Americans, the intrepid riders covered the distance between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California (the distance between Stockholm and Lisbon) in ten days. In the eighteen months of its history, the Pony Express missed only one trip. Alas, for the enterprising freight firm of Russell, Majors and Wadell, telegraph lines joined Mississippi and California in October 1861; progress had caught up with, and overtaken, the daring Pony Express.


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2020. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.