By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Pony Express Re-Ride Passing Through Sidney

 


There was a time mail carriers had more threats than an unrestrained dog or an angry customer. They had miles of wilderness and all of the dangers that come with it.

The Pony Express earned a place in history, an Old West legend. It was the fastest mail service available to the western territories. Mail sent by stage coach could require a 25-day journey, and by ship would be a months-long adventure. The success of the riders depended on the availability of resources including relay stations, according to the National Pony Express Association. Stations were usually about 15 to 20 miles apart. The terrain often dictated the number of home stations and relay stations and the distance between each. Locations were often decided by necessity. Riders exchanged horses at relay stations and home stations housed riders between trips. Each rider covered about 75 miles per day.

The Pony Express, from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., had an average delivery time of 10 days. The service was only in operation for 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861.

A re-enactment of the ride is underway with riders passing through Sidney early Thursday, June 28.

The ride began 3 p..m. Wednesday, June 20, leaving Pony Express Plaza in Old Sacramento. The last is due to arrive in St. Joseph, Mo., at 8:30 p.m. June 30 with the team completing 1,966 miles.

The route will be on the Pony Express National Historic Trail, a component of the National Trails System, according to a press release from the National Pony Express Association (NPEA).

As per the tradition when new riders were hired and commissioned, 600 riders from the NPEA's eight state divisions will take the Pony Express Oath and receive a Bible in meetings before the ride. Riding relays are one to five miles. Each rider will take turns transporting a mail-filled mochila, a leather square with four pockets sewn in its corners.


Riders enter Nebraska June 27, first stopping at Lyman, then Scottsbluff National Monument, followed by Chimney Rock and Bridgeport. On Thursday, June 28, the next rider is due to arrive in Sidney at the junction of Highways 385 and 30 at 1:40 a.m., and in Chappell at 4 a.m., followed by Big Springs at 7:30 a.m.

The National Pony Express Association is a non-profit all-volunteer organization founded in 1977 with the purpose of re-establishing, identifying and re-riding the Pony Express National Historic Trail, according to the organization's brochure.


 

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