Lack of development and limited government services in the western territories created opportunities for entrepreneurs like Alex Toponce. Arriving from France at age seven, Toponce traveled west and by age 18 had worked as a bullwhacker. By 1860 he was working in the gold fields of Colorado, Montana and Idaho.
George Hearst, stockholder in the Custer Mining Company, wanted to build a mill but there was no road between Challis and Custer for wagons and mules to use to haul the heavy equipment. Alex Toponce, a personal friend of Hearst, arrived at Challis in 1879 to begin planning and building a connecting road.
Within a year, Toponce secured partners and completed the Toll Road. He negotiated contracts to haul freight and mail to Custer and gold bullion out to market. Toponce also operated a four-horse stage line from Challis to the nearest railway at Blackfoot, Idaho, a distance of 156 miles covered by stage in twenty-four hours. In 1882, Gilmore & Salisbury outbid Toponce on the lucrative mail contract and Toponce sold his share of the stage line and move to Corinne, Utah.
"The mail came in this evening for the last time on the pony, and in the future will come in on the Toponce-Meyers Stage." Yankee Fork Herald, October 2, 1879