The April 14 Google Doodle celebrates the 155th anniversary of the first mail being delivered by the Pony Express. According to the National Park Service, the first package arrived at midnight on April 14, 1860. It traveled across the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Missouri, through Placerville, California, and then on to Sacramento and down to San Francisco. There were 100 stations along the route with 400-500 horses and as many riders.
The Hartford Weekly Times wrote about the arrival of the first delivery saying “…citizens paraded the streets with bands of music, fireworks were set off….the best feeling was manifested by everybody.”
This Google Doodle is a little different from the usual ones as it invites users to play a little game. Using the up and down arrows (on a desktop computer) you navigate a rider through treacherous terrain facing bandits, avalanches and rocks. This is the second time in a month that Google has brought out a game like this; for April Fools’ Day, Google created a feature that allowed people to play Pac Man on Google Maps.
Toward the end of March 2015, ReCode reported that Google was launching a project called “Pony Express.” Though it noted at the time that “Pony Express” may be a code name. The program will allow Gmail users to receive and pay bills through their email accounts. It will be rolled out in the fourth quarter of 2015, reports Payment Source.
Back to the original Pony Express: Since 1925, nearly every decade, Hollywood has brought out a movie about the Express. Most recently in 2012, there was the release of the Spirit of the Pony Express. You can watch the full movie above.
The most famous iteration of the story came in 1953 with Charlton Heston’s effort Pony Express. The movie attracted scandal for its outrageous scene showing Rhonda Fleming in the bath and Heston’s insistence on promoting Camel cigarettes during the movie.