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Google Doodle marks Pony Express' 155th anniversary with a video game

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Today is the 155th anniversary of the first Pony Express delivery, and the Google Doodle is celebrating the milestone with a side-scrolling runner you can play in your browser.

Google often marks birthdays and other anniversaries with Google Doodles, and many of them are interactive. Today's Doodle resembles an endless runner, although the game has a beginning and an end. You play as a Pony Express courier riding from west to east, picking up mail on horseback while avoiding obstacles like rocks, snow, cactuses and varmints with lassos. The game splits up the route into three legs, so you change horses twice. The objective is to pick up all 100 letters and bring them safely to the end.

The Pony Express began running in April 1860, with the first delivery leaving St. Joseph, Missouri, on April 3 and reaching Sacramento, California, early on the morning of April 10. The route measured approximately 1,900 miles. While the Pony Express only operated for about 18 months, the service gained renown for being able to carry mail from the East Coast to the West Coast in a mere 10 days, which was unheard of at the time.

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