Looking comfortable in the saddle, Gardnerville’s Bob Moore guided his horse across Carson Street and onto the Capitol grounds Thursday.
Moore, at 90, the oldest of Nevada’s Pony Express riders, had completed his piece of the annual journey just as he has for more than 30 years. As his mount relaxed on the shady grass at the Capitol’s south steps, he handed off his mailbag to Fallon’s Katie Peralta for the next segment of the annual re-enactment. Peralta, 23, headed east at a gallop to the cheers of the crowd of about 30 including Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki who turned out for the event.
But not before Krolicki added six letters from himself and other Nevada officials to the pouch.
Moore said his first Pony Express ride was in 1978. If he has his way, Thursday won’t be his last.
The annual ride started two days ago in Sacramento. Following the original route used by riders in 1860, it will finish eight days from now in St. Joseph, Mo.
Genoan Deby O’Gorman saddled up and rode with the wind from Woodfords on Thursday morning en route to meeting up with Moore.
She led a riderless horse from South Curry Street in Carson City in honor of rider Sandy Blair, a board member who died since the last ride.
While the Pony Express only lasted a year and a half, it’s considered one of the most remarkable feats in the history of the old west, bringing mail across country in less than 10 days at a time when the alternatives, by stagecoach or by ship around Cape Horn, took far longer.
According to historical accounts, California newspapers received word of Lincoln’s election just seven days after the east coast newspapers.
The service was doomed by the Civil War and completion of the telegraph, closing just two days after the transcontinental telegraph reached Salt Lake City.
Krolicki pointed out earlier in the day the express rider passed by the front door of his home at the crest of Kingsbury Grade, part of the original route.
He thanked the group of re-enactors for adding their ride to Nevada’s Sesquicentennial celebration. He said the six letters he added to the pouch are from himself, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller, Rep. Mark Amodei and Reno’s Bud Hicks who helped found the group raising funds for the yearlong celebration of Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood. His, he said, is a symbolic thank you to President Lincoln for Nevada’s admission to the union.
From Carson City, Peralta and a succession of other riders will head east, generally following Highway 50 to Austin, then north of the highway crossing into Utah at Ibapah on the way to Salt Lake City.
Along the way to “Saint Jo,” there were 157 stations that provided riders with fresh mounts and, when they were exhausted, fresh riders.
The service sought applications from “young, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily.” But it was considered so dangerous the advertisement concluded: “Orphans preferred.”
Like their historic predecessors, riders will push eastward 24 hours a day until they reach Missouri.
Kurt Hildebrand contributed to this report.