[Road Brief] Day 67- Following the Pony Express

posted by Anna

Map Day 67

Day #67
Miles Covered Since Austin: 110
Hours on The Road: 11
Miles Traveled Since Beginning: 3,412
Where We Are: Fallon, NV

Day Overview:   We’ve seen signs for the Pony Express everywhere, particularly on Hwy 50 in Nevada. We’ve both heard the term before, and each of us pretended that we knew what this Pony Express thing was, until we asked one another for the definition and responded with blank stares and thoughtful groans.

After consulting a few sources, here’s what we found: The Pony Express was a fast mail service that operated between 1860 and 1861 between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California. The mail was delivered by horseback riders. Each rider would stop at a designated station, all located about 5 to 30 miles apart, where they could refuel with food, sleep and hop on a new horse. It took 10 days to traverse this distance! Not too shabby for 1860.

Pony Express Recruiting

How to recruit a rider -- note that "orphans preferred"

Though the service lasted for only 18 months, this is still an iconic chapter of the American West’s history – a precursor to modern UPS services! Imagine if your Amazon packages were delivered by galloping steeds mounted by intrepid horsemen. The postal service even made a stamp several years after the Pony Express had closed, in order to commemorate the brave riders.

Pony Express Stamp

2 cent Pony Express stamp

So, we’ll just blame our ignorance on the fact that we grew up on the East Coast, which was at the time disconnected from ponies and related memorabilia.

Pony Express Sign

Image of an intrepid rider at a stop along Highway 50

Okay, maybe that’s no excuse.

Retracing the trail by bike is interesting. There are all sorts of abandoned signs from this era, including old stations and imagery of classic horsemen riding like the wind.

So, the desert has given us more than mountain scenery and starry cold nights. It taught us a bit of history. Also, our motivation for watching old westerns has increased threefold. The next one on my list is: Pony Express – (1953) – “GALLOPING THRILLS! A mighty adventure when America’s destiny rode in the saddle bags of the…PONY EXPRESS.”

Next Scheduled Event: We’ll be in Carson City, Nevada on June 16th, where we will give a presentation in conjunction with Muscle Powered. For details, see full schedule of future stops.

5 Responses to [Road Brief] Day 67- Following the Pony Express

  1. Rachel Moore says:

    Can’t believe we missed you in Fallon! Just down the road from Lovelock! Hang in there, travelling in NV can be rough…..you’ve got the beautiful east side of the Sierras ahead of you. Good luck on the homestretch and hope you have a terrific finale!!!!!

    • Anna says:

      Thanks Rachel! I’m bummed I missed you guys too – would have been a perfect addition to our Nevada experience.

      Look forward to seeing you both in Port Angeles!


  2. Lowell Berg says:

    Thanks for the history lesson. It is amazing to me that some of the signs and even stations remain.

    Ten days does seem fairly quick for their day.

    I wonder how the riders would react if they could learn that we can send an e-mail across the country in a few seconds? (I’m a great fan of the “Back to Future” franchise)

    Just about in the home stretch, right?



  3. L.J. Perry says:

    That’s so funny, I grew up in Nebraska, Wyoming and Arizona and I just assumed EVERYONE knew about the Pony Express.. do you guys get the Wells Fargo Bank stage coaches at least?

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