Pony Express mail riders coming through town Tuesday

A Pony Express re-rider crossed into Nevada from Ibapah, Utah at 7:15 Sunday morning, passing on mail that started in Missouri a week before. More than 550 riders are participating in the ride, an annual recreation held by the National Pony Express Association.

Local riders are getting excited for their legs in the 24 hour-a-day, nonstop relay covering 1,966 miles.

"We still do it in 10 days just like they did back in 1860 and '61," said Larry McPherson of Stagecoach. He's the vice president of the the Nevada division of the NPEA.

Sunday he and president Robert Stark were doing demonstrations of the "mail exchange" at the Carson City Rendezvous. The mail was hauled in a leather mochila -- Spanish for backpack -- with four compartments.

The original Pony Express lasted only 18 months but Stark and McPherson described with pride how the U.S. Postal Service hired new Pony Express riders in 1983. A landslide on Highway 50 between Placerville and South Lake Tahoe made the route impassible to mail trucks.

"It took them two months to clear that up and riders hauled that mail everyday," said McPherson. "And I do believe they delivered it faster than the Postal Service." He gave a disclaimer about the history of the Pony Express being full of "tall tales and half-truths."

The mochila will come into Carson along Highway 50 at about midday on Tuesday. The rider will turn left on Roop and make their way to the commemorative marker on the corner of Third and Carson Streets between Mom and Pop's Diner and the St. Charles Hotel. Organizers expect the rider to be on that corner around 12:15 p.m. For updates on the riders' location call (775) 265-1808 and listen the latest recording.

"Last year the rider came through two hours early and I know a lot of people were disappointed so make sure you call the hot line," said McPherson.

The Sierra Intermountain HAM radio operators keep track of the riders and call in the updates.

"They're a great help in case there's an accident or if anything goes wrong," said Stark.

From the capital the riders will pass their mochila on down Highway 395 to Jack's Valley Road, then through Genoa and over the old gravel road up Kingsbury Grade -- the same path the original riders road.

The 1,966-mile route follows the Pony Express National Historic Trail from St. Joseph, Mo. through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and ends in old town Sacramento, Calif.

If You Go

What: Pony Express Commemorative Re-ride

When: Passing through Carson city on Tuesday at about midday, the ride started in St. Joseph, Mo. on Sunday, June 8 and will end in old town Sacramento on Wednesday.

Where: The Carson mail exchange will be at the corner of Third and Carson Streets by the St. Charles Hotel

To find out the current location of the Pony Express mail pouch and rider, call (775) 265-1808.


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