Annual Pony Express  Re-ride underway

GOTHENBURG — Each June, members of the National Pony Express Association, established in 1978, recreate the Pony Express in a commemorative re-ride along the original route through the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

This year the re-ride commenced in Sacramento, California on June 20 and is scheduled to arrive in St. Joseph, Missouri on June 30.

About 600 riders from the National Pony Express Association’s eight state divisions were expected to take the traditional Pony Express Oath and receive a Bible in meetings before the ride, similar to the original riders they seek to recognize on the 158th anniversary.

They pledge to not use profane language, to not drink intoxicating liquors and to not quarrel or fight.

Riding relays of one to five miles, they take turns transporting a mail filled mochila — a leather square with four pockets sewn in its corners. The mochila (Spanish for knapsack) is designed to be easily moved from saddle to saddle as horses are changed.

The event covers 1,966 miles in 10 days as it honors the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company founded by Russell Majors and Waddell, a Missouri freighting firm. It carried letters and telegrams from April 1860 to November 1861 to prove the Central Route passable year round.

Lyle Gronewold, of Gothenburg, president of Nebraska’s NPEA chapter, said area riders will reach the Midway Station, on 96 Ranch south of Gothenburg, at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday. Because of the timing, there are no public events planned this year, although they will switch off riders. They expect to pass through Cozad at 11 p.m.

True to the original Pony Express, riders travel round the clock, said Gronewold, and this year local riders will take turns riding through the night.

There will be a mail exchange stop at 6 a.m. at Fort Kearny. Biscuits and gravy will be served to the riders and people coming to see the event.

Gronewold said all times are estimates and riders can be ahead of schedule or behind schedule.

Those who wish to track the progress of the Pony Express re-enactors can visit www.nationalponyexpress.org and click on “follow the ride” under the “annual re-ride” tab. A unit in the mochila transmits real-time location of the rider.

“They didn’t have anything like that 158 years ago,” said Gronewold of being able to track to see where riders are at.

Information can be found on Facebook through “expressrider.” A telephone hotline, 855-809-8589, with recorded reports will be available during the re-ride courtesy of the Churchill County Communications in Nevada.

The last rider should arrive at Patee House in St. Joseph, Missouri at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30.

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