Pony Express Re-Ride on the trail
On this day, Pony Express riders hit the Wyoming-Nebraska border on their annual trek this morning to keep history alive and deliver 400 stamped envelopes, carried in a mochila.
It is the Pony Express Re-Ride and some 1,200 riders on horseback will travel 1,966 miles, starting in Sacramento, Calif., June 15 and ending in St. Joseph, Mo. June 25.
At 12 p.m. Friday, the Thayer County riders will cross the Oregon Trail on Monument Road just off Highway 81. There are 26 riders in all. One man from Norfolk and several from Lincoln were expected to join the group.
The riders are due near Oak at 10:30 a.m., to pick up the trail.
They’ll ride to Highway 53 and hand the mochila off to the Fairbury riders about a mile and a half south of Alexandria, who will take the mail to Kansas.
“Our group has about 32 miles,” Dick Heinrichs said.
Fairbury will pick the mail up about 1:30 p.m.
Heinrichs has ridden the trail for 35 years.
“It’s a tradition. I’ve had horses all my life,” he said.
Heinrichs said the Hebron Chamber of Commerce is planning for pizza, cookies and water at the noon stop, which is next to the Oregon Trail historical marker.
According the National Pony Express Association, the original route was simple: head west from St. Joseph and follow the Oregon Trail from Kansas across Nebraska and Wyoming, then Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.
Only two states — Missouri and California were recognized back then because the other states were still terrorities.
Nebraska Pony Express Riders covered 351 miles of trail in the state.
The Pony Express service opened April 3, 1860 because there was a need for faster communication with the west in light of the pending Civil War.
The very first trip took nine days and 23 hours for the westbound trek and 11 days and 12 hours for the eastbound.
Riders were said to cover 250 miles over a 24-hour period.
Eventually, the Pony Express expanded to more than 100 stations, almost 500 horses and 80 riders, but was cut off after 19 months because of the Pacific Telegraph line. Californians, however, relied on the service at the onset of the war.
Not too long after, the founders went bankrupt, but the intrigue of the Pony Express lives on as a legend.
Ponies, thoroughbreds, mustangs, pintos and Morgans were used to deliver the mail.