On July 20th, the Virginia radio program BackStory With the American History Guys tackled the history of postal delivery in America in an episode entitled “You’ve Got Mail: A History of the Post Office.” Among the guests who appeared was Christopher Corbett, professor and interim chair of English. Corbett is the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legacy of the Pony Express, a history of the mid-19th Century mail carrier.
Associate producer Eric Mennel began the segment by quizzing his own mother on the history of the Pony Express. When he asked how long the Pony Express was in operation, Corbett responded, “Well, with no disrespect to your mother, no one ever gets that right. People guess ten years, twenty years, [or] twenty-five years. It more ore less operated for seventy-eight weeks.”
Corbett then discussed the truth of the Pony Express as opposed to the legend. “They were carrying government documents. They were carrying bank transfers. They were carrying important business matters. They were not carrying love letters, Chistmas cards, [or] junk mail, and they were not carrying packages… but other than that, Mom was right.”