Pony Express re-ride comes through town

History is repeating itself as the National Pony Express Association's annual re-ride of the Pony Express Trail passes through Carson City this evening on the route from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Mo.

The 1,966-mile trek involves more than 500 riders traveling non-stop in sequence for 10 days. The route covers the trail from California through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

The route began in Old Sacramento at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A rider is expected to reach Woodfords at 2 p.m. today, with another rider to be in Carson City about 7 p.m. and possibly as early at 6 p.m.

"This is something that's really cool to commemorate our past and let people know the trail is in the area," said Debi Royer, ride captain from Carson City to Fort Churchill.

Royer said each year the ride travels more and more on paved surfaces due to development of land.

"A lot of developers are working with us to save the original route. In California, they pretty much have the most highway/freeway travel. We follow as closely as we can to the original route."

Royer said riders range in age from juniors, 14-15, to some who are 70 years and older. Royer, who has seven riders in her section, designates who rides where according to riding skill.

"The shortest route on my section is a little more than a mile, the longest is nine miles. And it's not necessarily a race. A lot of riders can put the miles behind them, others travel a little slower."

The only section locally not on paved road is in the Riverpark area (River Road) in Dayton.

The ride commemorates the Pony Express of 1860-1861. Riders carry commemorative letters and personal messages in a mochila. The envelopes have a special U.S. Postal Service cancellation.

The first stop in Carson City is at Third and Curry streets, behind the St. Charles Hotel. Actual stopping time is about 2 minutes - enough time to hand over the mochila. The second area stop is at Highway 50 East just past the Virginia City turnoff in Mound House. Third stop is at River Park substation on River Road, and the last is at the intersection of Fort Churchill Road and Chavez Road.

Royer encourages the community to gather for the exchange and take pictures of horse and rider. She recommends early arrival as times for exchange will vary according to traffic conditions and earlier travel times.

Assisting the riders are members of the Sierra Intermountain Emergency Radio Association. Through citizens band radios, the drivers report on the progress of the riders. They can also communicate easier than cell phones (in some regions) in case of emergency.

"Cell phones are OK, but in some areas they don't work," Royer said. "It's good to have the SIERA group with us in case something goes wrong. They're a really big help - they've been very good to us. They will call in the rider's location and whether they're on schedule or not."

Nevada President of the Pony Express Ride Larry McPherson is participating in his sixth ride.

"It's all fun," he said. "I have just a short run this year."

McPherson is riding Sundown, his purebred Spanish Arabian. He also visits area schools to talk about the Pony Express.

"You just go out and have fun. That's all you can do."

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

Fast Facts

What: National Pony Express Association Re-ride

When: Arrives in Carson City today

Local riders: Debi Royer, captain; Jason Royer, Dale Ryan, Gary Nezos, Dave Kittle, Nick Ryan and Justin Ryan

Ride area: Carson City to Fort Churchill

Time of ride: About six hours

Rider location hotline: (775) 265-1808

Route: Sacramento to St. Joseph, Mo., covering 1,966 miles with more than 500 riders

Info: www.xphomestation.com


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