Pony Express Re-Ride planned in June through Nebraska
June 1, 2010
OGALLALA, Neb. – The Pony Express began operation on April 3, 1860. This year marks the 150th anniversary of this daring chapter in American History. The National Pony Express Association conducts a Re-Ride of the Pony Express every year, carrying mail in a mochila across the 8 states that now comprise the National Pony Express Historic Trail. Usually this Re-Ride is undertaken in 10 days and runs 24/7, just like in 1860. However, in celebration of the 150th anniversary, the Re-Ride is going 20 days so that riders may ride in daylight most areas and celebrations commemorating the event may be held.
The mail will leave Sacramento, California, on June 6. The Nebraska Division of the Pony Express will begin carrying the mail on June 18, starting at Henry at 7:15 a.m. The riders will arrive at Bridgeport at 2:00 p.m., then on to Chappell by 10:30 p.m. A dedication of the Pony Express Memorial at Cabela’s in Sidney is planned for 6:00 p.m.
June 19 the mail will leave Chappell at 5:30 a.m., carried by the Colorado Division Riders, arriving at Big Springs at 9:30 a.m. A breakfast is planned at Ovid. Continuing east from Big Springs, a noon lunch stop and presentation will be held south of Ogallala at Tri-Trails Park. The Riders will be at Paxton at 2:30 p.m. The day’s ride will arrive at Brady at 10:30 p.m. and overnight there. Leaving Brady at 6:00 a.m., the Gothenburg stop will feature breakfast at 8:00 a.m. at Machete Station. The Riders will arrive at Ft. Kearny at 5:00 p.m., then continue on to south of Hastings by 11:00 p.m.
June 21 the Re-Ride will commence at 5:00 a.m., have coffee at Oak at 9:15 a.m. and exit the state at 6:00 p.m. A Historical Presentation will be held at Rock Creek Station at 3:45 p.m. The Kansas Riders will take the mail on to St. Joseph, Missouri, where a parade and celebration will take place on June 26.
The Pony Express served the blossoming country from April 3, 1860, to October 24, 1861, carrying news from California to the then-western terminus of the telegraph at St. Joseph, Missouri, and back. Besides providing news from home to all the California settlers, it served to provide a critical link between west and east during the time leading up to the Civil War. It is generally considered that the communication the Pony Express provided kept California in the Union. Lincoln’s inaugural address, which was vital information to the Union supporters there, reached California in 7 days, 17 hours, after reaching St. Joseph by Telegraph.
Extending almost 2,000 miles across the then mostly-territorial United States, the Pony Express was an endeavor that left a lasting memory on American History. Under the motto “the mail must go through,” the pony riders risked death daily as they carried mail across the young nation.
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It took about 80 riders, 400 horses, 157 stations and over 400 station keepers and other employees to run the Pony Express. Riders rode about 100 miles, changing horses every 10-15 miles at the stations. Average speed was 10 mph. Eastern, flatter regions employed the thoroughbred-type cavalry horses that could cover ground and run longer distances. Western, mountainous regions used the shorter-coupled mustang-type “California” horses that could maneuver the terrain more adeptly. The runs were sometimes only 5 miles between stations there. The riders carried a revolver for protection, but relied heavily on their quality steeds to run from danger.
During the Pony Express’ 19-month existence, 308 runs were made, covering 616,000 miles, carrying about 35,000 pieces of mail. The telegraph was completed on October 24, 1861. On October 26, 1861, the Pony Express officially ceased operations. The last run was made in November 1861. Financially the endeavor was a bust. Government contracts that the founders had relied upon never materialized and the three men that formed the Pony Express basically died paupers. Little did they know how well they would be remembered to this day.
More information on the Pony Express may be found at http://www.xphomestation.com. For more information on the Re-Ride, visit the website, or contact Lyle Gronewold, Nebraska State NPEA president at (308) 529-0804.