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.

Gold Rush Days in Sacramento, Sept 3-5, 2011

Over the Labor Day weekend Sacramento hosts our great Gold Rush Days.

It runs from Friday, September 3rd thru Monday, September 5th.

Gold Rush Days is held in historic Old Sacramento, the area of the city where Sacramento began back in 1849 with the real 49ers.

Admission to the Gold Rush Days is FREE…..how often do events like this charge no admission.  And of course it is a family friendly event.

Here are some early photos from the 2011 Gold Rush Days event, thanks to Sacramento Press (Twitter @sacramentopress):

In addition to the Gold Rush Days events, Old Sacramento has a ton of great things to see and do including the Sacramento River, the California State Railroad Museum, historic buildings from the time of the original gold rush, restaurants and shopping, an old one-room schoolhouse and railroad rides along the river down to Miller Park and the Delta King paddlewheel river boat.  The Delta King is now a great hotel right on the river!

Gold Rush Days has a recreation of an original 1849 tent city, gold panning, pony rides for the kids, arts & crafts and artisans like blacksmiths and tinsmiths and Pony Express relays.  Also we have a great Pony Express memorial.  The Pony Express terminus was in Sacramento and we have regular commemorations and re-enactments here as they do at the starting point in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Old Sacramento also hosts tours of our original city level which is now below ground.   The entire area was jacked up after many floods and what was  the first floor is now underground.  Cool!!

You can take carriage rides in the area and on into the downtown past the California State Capitol.

It is open from 10 am to 5 pm, and Old Sacramento itself is open until some of the bars close at 2 am.

.The event schedules are found here.  You will find music and dance and other presentations on a several stages throughout the area.

You can find a great map and download it here.

You will find a ton of photos from prior years Gold Rush Days here.

If you need to contact the folks that run the event call 916-808-7059.

About.com has a nice article about the Gold Rush Days in their Discover Gold site

“Stepping foot into Old Sacramento is like traveling back in time to California’s Gold Rush era. On any given visit, one can see the dirt being kicked up from the hooves of a horse drawing a carriage down the cobblestone streets. Wide and creaky wooden walkways lead up to restored buildings that used to house hotels, saloons and bathhouses. Now these structures are home to a myriad of shops, restaurants and bars entertaining the more than five million visitors to this State Historical Park.”

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This video is from the 2010 Gold Rush Days.  A nice joke to start it off and then footage from the event.