“Good work against heavy odds”: Thoughts on the Pony Express

[Credit: The Library of Congress]

On January 24, 1848, a carpenter named James W. Marshall looked down and saw gold flakes in a stream of water on land owned by John Sutter in Caloma, California.

It could be argued that Marshall set off a butterfly effect that led to California becoming the largest economic giant in the U.S., one so large that if California were an independent nation, it would…