Pony Express monument dedicated
June 28, 2007
Larry McPherson’s dream of a monument to the Pony Express riders of the 1860s has finally come to fruition with the dedication Thursday high on a Mound House hill.
The monument, a 10-by-10-foot metal silhouette of a mounted Pony Express rider heading east on the return route, overlooks Highway 50 near the Carson Highlands storage units. In addition to being visible to Highway 50 travelers, it will also be seen by V&T passengers when the train makes it to Carson City.
McPherson, a Lyon County commissioner, said he had the rider pointing east rather than west because, since western Nevada was close to the westernmost point of the Express route, the rider heading east from Sacramento would have arrived at that point sooner than the rider headed west from St. Joseph, Mo.
“This has been a dream of mine to keep history alive for the Pony Express with this silhouette, as well as the reride,” he said.
The National Pony Express Association, of which McPherson is a past president of the Nevada Division, held its annual reride last week. It re-enacts the ride from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento every year. The Pony Express lasted from April of 1860 to October 1861. This year marked the 147th anniversary of the Express.
The original route did parallel Highway 50 through the Dayton Valley to Carson City, said State Archivist Guy Rocha, who attended the dedication.
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“This has been documented as the general route of the Pony Express,” he said. “This was an opening of where one would come out of Dayton Valley, go over the rise we know as Mound House, and drop into the Eagle Valley.”
Of course, it didn’t look the same in the 1860s.
“The challenge to get into Carson City was that the water table was very high,” he said. “They had to follow the contour of the hills to get in, rather than go straight through. It wasn’t always the most direct way, but it was a way to go without horses slogging through the marsh. There was a lot of marshland then.”
The idea for the silhouette came into being three years ago when McPherson went on a trip to Marysville, Kan., where a similar silhouette greets visitors on the east and west entrances to the city, and wanted one like it for Nevada.
“It took awhile to find something that could withstand the wind,” he said.
The silhouette was created by artist Bill Muerle, of Carson Valley, who donated his time. Muerle, who owns Decorative Iron Plus, frequently does cowboy and cowgirl silhouettes, though usually not that big.
He said it took him two months to make the Pony Express monument.
“The nice part is I always thought of doing something of this magnitude, this size, for the accomplishment and the recognition,” he said.
Though he donated his talent and labor, Muerle said had he charged for his work the bill would have come to about $3,500, in addition to the $2,700 in materials.
The placement of the monument was a team effort; in addition to McPherson and Muerle, Capital City Concrete donated concrete for the base, DIS Backhoe dug the hole, workers at Miles Construction stored it and hauled it to the location. Developer Phil Cowee, of Dayton, donated the land.
It was painted by Paul Webster and his son, Tom. Paul Webster told McPherson the paint job should last 20 or 30 years, but couldn’t guarantee the silhouette would be respected by area birds.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.
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