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The Expressmen is one of twenty-seven volumes in the popular Time-Life book series The Old West. This book features the individuals who transported people, mail, freight, food, valuables, and other goods across the wide expanse of the American West between the 1840s and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Most of the book is devoted to the stagecoach business and the individuals who formed it. Chapter One traces the origins of the express industry in the American West; the establishment of Army posts and the discovery of gold in California in the 1840s led to the demand for a variety of delivery services. Mule- and ox-driven freight wagon trains and how they supplied frontier towns and military posts are featured in Chapter Two. The fabled Pony Express is the subject of Chapter Three (I thought this was the most interesting part of the book). Chapter Four presents stage coach king Ben Holladay. The dangers (prairie fires, Indian attacks, and others) and discomforts (cramped coaches, lack of sleep, poor food, and others) of stage travel are related in Chapter Five. The final chapter chronicles the development of transportation giant Wells, Fargo & Company. The completion of the transcontinental telegraph in 1861 and the transcontinental railroad in 1869 led to the end of the Pony Express and the stage coach business, respectively. Nevertheless, it was the expressmen who linked the West with the East and, as a result, influenced the development of the American West. As with other books in this series, numerous illustrations and photographs supplement the narrative. Because this book is more of a business history it did not have as much adventure as other books in this series I have read to date. Still, I did like this book as it is an informative volume about the transportation industry and its impact on the Old West.
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