Well partners, the Pony Express turns 150 this year and though short lived it has captured the imagination of people the world over and thrilled us all with tall tales.
The Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company, otherwise known as the Pony Express, maintained communications between the east coast and the west coast of America by carrying official mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. Since we so associate it with the old west, we were surprised to learn that it was in existence for only a year and a half from April 3, 1860, to Oct. 22, 1861. The relay of horseback riders traveled more than 1,800 miles in 10 days from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California.
The National Pony Express Association was formed to keep the legends of the pony alive by riding the original trail route each year. The riders turn their ponies east one year and west the next year. This year, the re-enactment involving 550 riders galloping a 2,000-mile route from San Francisco to St. Joseph, Mo., passing a reproduction of an 1860 mail pouch from saddle to saddle along the way began on June 6th and continues till June 20th.
Much of the original trail has been obliterated by time and human activities. The trail’s exact route and length are not actually known with certainty. Currently only short segments, believed to be traces of the original trail, can be seen in Utah and California. However, it is planned to have approximately 120 historic sites eventually available to the public, including 50 existing Pony Express stations or station ruins.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail, a 2,000-mile driving route between San Francisco and St. Joseph, Mo., has hundreds of landmarks associated with the 19th century mail service. One spot to check out is the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington which has unveiled a permanent exhibit on the Pony Express and has extensive information online here.
So Pony up and celebrate the Pony Express’s 150 year anniversary!