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Pony Express National Historic Trail

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PENHT Background

Contributions of the Pony Express to the development of communications in the West are commemorated by the Pony Express National Historic Trail.

Legislation authorizing the addition of the Trail to the National Trails System was signed by President George W. Bush on August 3, 1992. The Trail is administered by the Department of Interior, National Park Service.

The P.E.N.H.T. is a route rather than a continuous trail. It can be followed by horse, foot or automobile for most of its length. Large expanses of the territory through which it traverses are still very scenic and many museums and historical sites offer interpretation and preservation.

The National Pony Express Association, through its Annual Re-Run, publications, resource guides, speakers bureaus, work parties and commemorative events on the trail, seeks to give the horseman, historian and general public a sense of the excitement, danger and accomplishments of the unique historic mail service on this Trail.

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Pony Express National Historic Trail Logo

The National Park Service recently unveiled the approved logo (see above) of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. The logo was developed over a 3 year period in cooperation with the National Park Service guidelines, and input from interested groups such as the National Pony Express Association.

The logo shows a Pony Express Rider galloping out of a triangle, with a burnish orange background. The concept was first presented at the 1996 National Director's Meeting in Seneca, Kansas. After input from the NPEA, it was refined at the 19917 meeting in Tooele, Utah, and unveiled in Julesburg last fall.

The signing package will include at least two sites: one visible on roadways at a speed of 30-40 miles per hour, and another suitable for a carsonite type post in the back country. Signing placement will be developed by the NPS in cooperation with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, other public agencies, state and local highway departments and private landowners.

The time table for beginning the signing program along the trail has not been set. Signing did begin in Utah in 1997 in order to maximize public awareness of the historic trail corridor being utilized by the Mormon Pioneer Sesquicentennial Wagon Train. The P.E.N.H.T. sign appeared on one of two posts with the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, and California Historic Trail signs. California will not be reached until the year 2000, it is estimated.

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California 1998 Trail Report

This year has started our with a lot of letter writing and some trail evaluation. However, that will be changing as the weather gets better. Jerry Leal, Jim Eiland and Rich Tatman have already been checking out some of the trail. For right now, I have had to settle for computer keys.

In an effort to better define the value of our volunteer work, a more in depth approach is needed for 1998. In the past, Jerry and I have asked that volunteer trail work be reported from portal to portal by name, date, hours, and area of work. On the 1998 report, we would like to take it one step further. We want to include the total number of miles contributed (again this would be portal to portal). Also, any kind of tools and equipment (this includes your horses) as well as the cost attributed for gas and oil for vehicles and chain saws.

Proof of volunteer efforts is how we can influence funding. This means more of a conscious effort for recording on everyone's part. This is the best way to capture a true picture of our contributions to the Pony Express National Historic Trail (PET). We work hard, give a lot, and it needs to be reported that way.

In February, letters (with many enclosures) were written seeking stronger support and commitment for additional funding for the PET to California Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, and US Representative John Doolittle. This was another attempt at awareness, asking for a stronger and louder voice for funds for California and specifically the PET. It would also help if each of you would express your opinions regarding the lack of commitment by Congress to support funding for trails and specifically the National Historic Trails. Speak out, or give up the tight to complain!

On February 18th, 1998, California Division President Jerry Leal received from the National Park Service a 176 page copy with appendices of the Draft, Comprehensive Management and Use Plan, Environmental Impact Statement for the California and Pony Express National Historic Trails. A response was requested by March 16th, 1998. A six page response was made addressing Issues and Concerns, Site Development and Marking, Significant Resources and Alternatives. The draft report and response will be available to view at the general meeting March 27th at the Library.

Volunteer trail work is open to all our members, not just Riders. Associates are more than welcome. If you can and like to be, out in the fresh air, walking, pruning, moving rocks, raking, replacing trail placards, we want and need you! As trail advocates for the PET, we need to insure its preservation. Use and preservation takes commitment. Are you up to it?

Melba J. Leal
Trails Representative

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The California State Division was recently presented a Certificate of Appreciation for participation in Trails Day 1996. The award was presented by the DuPont Company.

The Division submitted an application for the Trails for Tomorrow Award in June 1996. The Award included a $500.00 cash grant and was offered in conjunction with Trails Day activities. Trails Day, June 6th, was a national event promoting trails, sponsored by the American Hiking Society, Washington, D.C.

California's application was one of 500 submitted and placed us in the finalist round. Documentation was offered by the Division's Trails Committee Representative showing trail work done on the Pony Express Trail in El Dorado County.

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Planning in a Spirit of Partnership on California and Pony Express Trails

By Steve Elkinton

Over 30 agency and partner representatives met for two days in Denver last July to develop the core of the "Cal/Pony" Comprehensive Management and Use Plan (CMP). Team captain Tom Thomas, of the National Park Service's Denver Service Center (DSC), is coordinating concurrent planning for the California and Pony CMP's as well as modifying the Oregon and Mormon Pioneer CMP's, where they overlap. The goal is a unified plan document for all four overlapping trail corridors. Several phases of these plans have already been completed.

The July meeting was called to develop action items and an appropriate public involvement strategy. Instead of focusing on conceptual or thematic alternatives, the plan is to be a "tool box" of actions to protect the trails and carry out the intentions of the National Trails System Act.

Fred Babb, the DSC Program Manager overseeing these plans, opened the sessions by stating that all represented groups and agencies would be listed on the front cover of the final plan to give each group a sense of "ownership" in the plan and a responsibility to see that it gets carried out to their satisfaction.

During our meetings, the planning process evolved from a task to be carried out by one agency (the National Park Service), into a collaborative effort by many interested parties who could each play a part in implementing it. In other words, it became a true partnership plan -- not one dictated to reluctant participants by a federal agency.

How did this happen? Several things were at work. First off, a full array of stakeholders were present. The only major group not represented (and identified early on) were trail landowners. Another factor was the broad variety of skills and disciplines represented, so that respect for differing opinions came out early. At the same time, almost everyone present shared in a common vision for what made these trails significant and meaningful. In addition, several participants continually challenged the group to think in new ways. In coming to terms with new viewpoints, the group as a whole moved forward.

As the discussion evolved, it became obvious that many aspects of long-distance trails planning lack standards and guidelines. Some of these can be addressed in specific trail plans, but others should be determined nationally. (Such topics include site inventories, historic site treatment, mapping, signs, logo licensing, public access, certification, trail corridor development, and land protection documentation.) These need to be formulated by the national trails community at future conferences and meetings.

Steve Elkinton is NPS Program Leader for National Trails System Programming.
"Pathways" Fall 1996

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NPS Publications

The Pony Express National Historic Trail is administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The Superintendent's Office is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. This office jointly administers the California, Mormon Pioneer, Oregon and Pony Express Trails.

The Public Draft of the Comprehensive Management and Use Plan for the California and Pony Express National Historic Trails, the update for the Oregon and the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trails, and the Environmental Impact Statement associated with the document are currently available for review. A web site has been established to allow for maximum opportunity for public review. Comments on the draft plan and the EIS need to be returned by October 19, 1998. They should be addressed to Jere L. Krakow, at the address below.

The Trails are contiguous in many areas; descriptive information on history and landmarks can be obtained from the following free publications.

Order the above publications from:

Order the above publication from:

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