150th Anniversary Celebration

A Special Poem by Jeff Hearty

The National Pony Express Association conducted its annual Re-Ride over the 1,966 mile route of the Pony Express National Historic Trail from California, through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas to Missouri, June 6 to 26, 2010.

The event commemorated the Pony Express of 1860-1861. 2010 marked the 150th Anniversary of the Pony Express. The Central Overland and California Pikes Peak Express Company carried letters and telegrams for 19 months to prove the Central Route through Salt Lake passable year round. The owners hoped to win a federal mail contract on that route. Pony Express history is preserved in the federally designated Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service, in museums, Pony Rider monuments, books, and the annual re-creations by the NPEA.

Normally, this Re-Ride is a 10-day, 24-hour a day, non-stop event by over 500 riders and horses. In 2010 the Annual Re-Ride diverted to all daytime hours in most places. This gave the Divisions and other entities/communities a chance to hold a celebration. The mail was carried by rivercraft from San Francisco to Sacramento before the start of the Re-Ride .

Each of the eight "Pony Express" states (California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri) also be celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the Pony Express with events of their own, as well as, creating their own souvenirs.

Riders carried Commemorative Letters in a Mochila, Pony Express style. The cachets, honoring Pony Express history, werre available for purchase by NPEA members, historians, and philatelists. The envelopes showed they were carried by the Pony Express and the first class postage had a special US Postal service cancellation. Only the number of letters purchased were carried.

Communications between Riders and Ride Captains were provided by amateur radio operators in the states of California, Nevada, Utah, eastern Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas. Links to their web pages are listed below.

Ham Radio is a very important part of this Re-Ride because there are many parts of the trail that communication by other means is not available. When Riders are many times in an area where the hams are unable to follow ham operators are placed at various checkpoints/exchanges (where the mochilla is passed from one horse to another) and communicate to net control the position and time of arrival and departure. This gives those personnel responsible for that part of the reride information as to where the rider is and if the mail is on time. Naturally any emergency can be handled by the hams, such injuries to riders or horses.

A GPS transmitter was carried in one of the cantinas on the Mochila. The size of a deck of cards, the GPS unit transmitted the location of the Mochila to a satellite. This information was available online allowing one to follow the progress of Rider and Mail in real time. A link to the web page are listed below.

The 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Pony Express Committee was chaired by Ken Martin from Kansas. Their efforts have made this a most memorable event.