Fallon raises new Pony Express memorial statue
To send mail through the Pony Express from San Francisco to St. Joseph, Missouri — a distance of almost 2,000 miles — was a significant form of communication in the western states during the 1860s.
Among the 184 Express stations across the route and 34 in Nevada, some resided in Churchill County — and 158 years later, the City of Fallon raised a silhouette statue representing an Express Rider on Tuesday, along the Reno Highway.
“I’m excited Fallon has its own,” said David Kittle, vice president of Nevada’s Division of the National Pony Express Association. “During that time, there wasn’t a lot of places to stop and rest, except for Ragtown.”
The now ghost town is located on the edge of the county line and was the closest stop for rest 20 miles outside of Fallon, after traversing through Fort Churchill, Buckland and Middlegate Stations.
The unveiling of Fallon’s new landmark was open to the public at the parking lot in Walmart, near one of Fallon’s welcome statues. It was originally erected in Fernley until the Nevada Division of the Pony Express requested to obtain it.
As a western history fan, Mayor Ken Tedford had the honor to officially present the silhouette to the public.
“This silhouette will serve as a constant reminder to our visitors of our history,” he said. “It’s our hope this rider will provide a source to the community as lives were lost to make this country a better place.”
During the 1860s, Express Riders’ missions were disrupted through Churchill County’s trail, as Pyramid Lake Indian battles erupted and some stations were destroyed.
Currently, there are five silhouette statues of the Express Rider, including in Mound House, Ely, and Elko.
According to Kittle, the trail never went through Fernley and wanted the statue placed near Walmart, as most travelers enter and exit through the area.
“It took us a few years to get this in Fallon,” he said. “It’s a part of our family history and having it along the trail makes it even more so.”
Kittle’s wife, Melody, also supported the event Tuesday as her great-great grandfather, Alexander Majors, was one of the founders of the Pony Express.
As an annual tradition, the Pony Express Association is gathering 700 of its riders to participate in the re-ride from Sacramento to St. Joseph in 10 days, beginning June 20.
Kittle has participated in rides prior years — this will be his first year he will be watching riders travel through Nevada and root for his division, as they’re in competition with California to deliver the most letters.
“The most exciting ride I did was my first one,” he said. “I was riding along the Carson River through moonlight. It was so bright, I had to pull my hat down.”
Personal letters are $10 and must be ordered by May 1, while Commemorative Letters are $5 each and must be ordered by May 30.
To fill out an order form, visit nationalponyexpress.org under Nevada, and download the re-ride schedule.