The Pony Express, an express mail service operated by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. It ran a route from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, and had further extensions through Oakland in to San Francisco. The Pony Express operated from April 3, 1860 through October, 1861 and used relays of fast horses to carry messages across the western United States. During the eighteen months that it operated it was the fastest and most efficient means to get a message from coast to coast, reducing the travel time for the message to approximately ten days. Truth be told, only half of this distance was covered by couriers, with telegraph service offering communication through the more populous eastern states and riders being used west of Missouri.
Oakland was host to a Pony Express ferry when the couriers missed the steamship that generally carried them and the mail down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. In the rare instance that a courier was not able to board the steamer, then they made the trip overland from Sacramento to Oakland, roughly a ten hour trip on horseback, and boarded a steam ferry, the Oakland, that carried them across the bay. 1
The Pony Express Ferry "Oakland" Marker was dedicated on April 23, 1999 in Jack London Square at the transfer point of the Pony Express route between Oakland and San Francisco.
The overland route between Sacramento and Oakland, generally followed Interstates 80 and 680 between Sacramento and Benicia. The route passed through what is now the campus of the University of California, Davis, by the site of the abandoned Village of Silvey, through Vacaville, Fairfield, Rockville, Cordellia, and Benicia. After crossing by ferry from Benicia to Martinez, the route followed what is now Pacheco Boulevard, Contra Costa Boulevard by Sun Valley Shopping Center, North Main Street through Walnut Creek, Mount Diablo Boulevard through Lafayette, and over Fish Ranch Road to Oakland, down Telegraph Avenue ending at Jack London Square.2