The Annual Pony Express “Re-Ride”

Pony Express Statue

Pony Express Statue (Photo credit: Frank Reese)

Each year the original Pony Express ride  from Sacramento, California to Saint Joseph, Missouri is traveled once again by courageous men and women on horseback.The Pony Express agents first saddled up and rode their horses along this route in 1860/1861, now a century and a half later modern riders volunteer to do the same, recreating the original Pony Express ride along the same route with some of the original challenges of the ride.

The heat, the sun, the night time rides, the bugs—all of those things that can make a nearly 1,966-mile journey on horseback torturous recreating that first  mail delivery company and ride.

The original ride has Pony Express “stations”  at least a mile and a half to four miles along that route where riders could stop, stretch water and feed their horses and themselves.  “Nighttime and mountain rides are harder, and combinations of the two make for the most demanding treks. That means California riders have the biggest challenge going over uneven Sierra trails without the sun to guide them.”

Every other year the re-ride begins at the Pony Express Plaza in Old Sacramento and this year it “kicked off at the plaza, headed toward Missouri. At the pre-ride ceremony, the first riders were sworn in using most of the original Pony Express oath. The riders promised not to “use profane language,” to “drink no intoxicating liquors,” and not to “quarrel or fight with any other associate.”

 Sacramento has a Pony Express statue in Old Sacramento as well as being the annual starting or stopping point for the ride recreating the mail delivery.  Why is the Pony Express so important to Sacramento?  Sacramento was the Western Terminus of the Pony Express and because of the Gold Rush there were so many men in the hills above Sacramento, far from their families,  and the Pony Express provided them with their link to their past.
They wrote letters or found someone to write letters for them and shared their letters from home with the other miners.
So the Pony Express provided that link to their families and entertainment.  And, with security, also moved money along the same route.
Now the Pony Express trail is a National Historic Route.  “It is hard to believe that young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in eight states was the most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph”
The Pony Express and the annual re-ride is just as important in St. Joseph, Missouri as it is in Sacramento, California.
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