Pony Express alive and well and riding in Wyoming

Vicki Hood
Posted 6/21/23

Pony Express

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Pony Express alive and well and riding in Wyoming


GUERNSEY—Few things bring life in early American West to mind as the mention of the Pony Express.  A business venture that was deemed a success but active just 19 months, it is one of the most endeared and enduring legends in our nation’s history. 

As America grew, the population spread from east to west, gold was discovered bringing thousands to California and by 1860, Civil War loomed large in the East.  Accurate and timely communication became even more critical but at the time, the only option involved a month-long journey via ships that traveled around the tip of South America, then north to ports on the Pacific West Coast. 

Enter William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell, owners of a successful freight business that moved mail and supplies across the frontier.  They believed they could move the mail faster through a system of horses and riders across the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.  The three joined forces, formed the Pony Express and set up an intricate relay system that could get mail delivered between Independence, Missouri and Sacramento, California in just 10 days.  On the trail day and night, riders covered between 10-12 miles before changing horses at relay stations built along the trail.  The mail was traveling both directions between St. Joe and Sacramento at any given time. 

Despite the fact that they were able to keep good on the promise of a short delivery time, the business failed financially and with the advent of the telegraph, the Pony Express became yet another piece of the past.

Its story is like no other and thanks to people who wish to pass it along for many generations, it is told best through the annual re-enactment ride or “reride” by members of the National Pony Express Association.

Every summer, 750-plus riders saddle up and carry mail across the eight states where the original trail runs between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California.  Just as in 1860, riding day and night non-stop, a special saddle bag called a mochila is transferred from horse to horse and the riders complete the trip in just 10 days.  Membership is open to anyone 14 years and older who can provide their own horse and adheres to an oath of obligation—still the same as required to be taken by the original riders. 

Thanks to the technology available now, anyone with internet access can follow the ride as it happens.  Included with the mail is a GPS locator that pings the rider’s location every five to 10 minutes and the location is graphed to a map on the national Pony Express website.

Each has a state association which is divided into chapters across the trail.  The members of those chapters cover a designated portion of the trail for the annual reride.

Riding for the Southeast Wyoming Pony Express Association this year were:  Dean Anderson, Marika Anderson, Rory Anderson, Adahline Goulart, Alicia Goulart, Stephanie Goulart, Tony Goulart, Sam Hammond, Amanda Holtzclaw, Tim Heer, Laura Jeffery, Angie Montgomery, Tia Morrison, Ranae Reinert, Jim Vancise, Brent Weber, Gary Weber.

This year’s reride began in Sacramento on June 7th and was completed this past Saturday evening in St. Joseph. 

More information about the Pony Express, its history, mission and much more may be found at https://nationalponyexpress.org

Pony Express Monument gets much-needed facelift

School’s out, pools are open and many Americans are on the road, checking out the sites our country has to offer.  With a number of major historical attractions, the Guernsey area sees a fair number of tourists every summer and keeping those places clean and attractive should be a priority.  But with a mix of ownership, it’s not always clear just exactly who should be responsible and to what extent.  But for some locals guys, getting what needed done became more important than who should do it. 

Over the past two summers, a substantial amount of work has been done to provide some access points on the Platte River for those who enjoy floating.  In addition to two locations near the west river bridge in Guernsey to get on the river,  an area was developed near Register Cliff to provide an easy point to get out.  Now known as Madison Beach, the site was made possible through donated labor and materials to honor the life of Madison Cook, a young woman who died in a domestic violence situation.  Madison enjoyed floating on the river through Guernsey with family members many times, so the family chose to do the project in Madison’s honor.  It was formally dedicated last summer. 

The site happens to sit adjacent to the area where the Nine Mile Station for the original Pony Express was located.  Although the building came down many years ago, the historical site is recognized with a large white stone monument alongside the road used to access the beach and Register Cliff.  Some of the same volunteers that worked on the beach noticed how run down the Pony Express marker had become and decided it was time for a facelift.  Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect as the annual National Pony Express Reride was scheduled to come through this past week.  The five volunteers included Kellie Augustyn, Brad Cook, Greg Frankel, Tom Holleran, and Randy Hood.  Using some funds provided by the Madison Beach Memorial fund, they completely scraped, sanded and repainted the white stone and cleaned the bronze pieces attached.  They added white rock around the base and finished the project with a split rail fence surrounding three sides.  The project was finished the day before the reride came through and many commented how much improved the site is.

Because they don’t have the resources that many large metropolitan areas have, small town residents rely on volunteers to make things happen.   

It serves as a great example to what can be accomplished for the good of all when the focus is on the project rather than who gets the credit for doing it.