Modern Pony Express riders began a re-enactment of the famous 2,000-mile postal service ride Thursday, leaving Sacramento, Calif., at 6 a.m.
More than 600 members of the National Pony Express Association will take part in the 10-day ride through eight states and expect to finish their trek in St. Joseph, Mo., at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 17.The horsemen, like their pioneer counterparts who provided mail service from April 3, 1860, to Oct. 28, 1861, will ride through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas on their way to Missouri.
They will cross Nevada and enter Utah early Monday, June 11, reaching Ibapah at 9 a.m. About 60 Utah riders will carry the mail 266 miles across Utah, reaching Simpson Springs at 6 p.m. Monday, Murray Park at 3 a.m. Tuesday, and Evanston, Wyo., at noon Tuesday.
Clark Maxfield, Hooper, president of the Utah chapter of the National Pony Express Association, said riders will carry 1,000 commemorative letters in a leather mochila or mail pouch which is placed over the saddle, just as it was carried by the original Pony Express riders.
This year, he said, Czechoslovakians who formed a Pony Express club of their own in 1985 because they were so fascinated by the American West have been invited to take part in the re-ride in America.
Maxfield said this will be the first international ride, "a ride for peace and unity among nations. Our American riders have been invited to return to Czechoslovakia and take part in the re-enactment there June 25 and 26."
He said three members of the House of Representatives, Jim Slattery, D-Kan.; Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.; and Norman Shumway, R-Calif.; and possibly Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan Jr., are expected to take part in this year's Pony Express ride.
"The National Pony Express Association has been working with Congress and the National Park Service since 1983 to make the Pony Express Trail part of the National Trails System.
"In February of last year, Rep. Shumway introduced HR 1109 in the House of Representatives and Reps. Slattery and Thomas were co-sponsors, along with 40 other House members.
The bill passed the House March 6 of this year by a vote of 416-0 and is pending in the Senate.
Maxfield said the bill would allow the National Park Service to mark, preserve and undertake interpretive activities along the trail.
National Pony Express Re-Ride:
Sacramento, CA. 6 a.m. June 8 Woodsford, CA. 9 p.m. June 8
Woodsford CA. 9 p.m.* June 8 Ibapah, UT. 8 a.m. June 11
Ibapah, UT. 9 a.m. June 11 Evanston, WY. 12 noon June 12
Evanston, WY. 12 noon June 12 Henry, NE. 2 p.m. June 14
Henry, NE. 2 p.m. June 14 Ovid, CO. 3:30 a.m. June 15
Ovid, CO. 3:30 A.M.** June 15 Kansas-Nebraska line
8:30 p.m. June 16
Line 8:30 p.m. June 16 St. Joseph, MO. 2:30 p.m. June 17.
*Time change Pacific to Mountain
**Time change Mountain to Central