Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Resurrection of the Pony Express

Cruising along Route 66 this year, I stopped at a small town near the Petrified Forest - Holbrook, Arizona. After making friends with the gun-wielding cowboy who ran the visitor centre (he called me babe), he proceeded to tell me the fascinating history of the Hashknife Pony Express.

The original Pony Express (April 1860 - October 1861) was the mail service organised by William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell and was set up between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, a journey of nearly two thousand miles. Men would ride across the Plains, the Sierra, and the Rockies, stopping at particular relay stations to pick up fresh horses, food and even new riders. This incredible journey would take around ten days, but after the introduction of the telegraph, it was rendered irrelevant.

However, in Holbrook, the Pony Express rides again (ahem). The Hashknife Pony Express, organised in 1958, had its 50th anniversary in 2008. A group of dedicated riders form the "oldest, officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world." From Holbrook, riders travel 200 miles to Scottsdale over three days, delivering 20,000 first class post with the Pony Express stamp on each letter. Rain or shine.

Apparently, the same posse also search for lost tourists in the desert. And whatever the conditions, they don't come back until they find them...

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