Riders make up time on Pony Express ride
June 18, 2003
Well … it wasn’t exactly like the old days.
Horses were spooked by passing delivery trucks and riders used cell phones on the side of the road, but the Pony Express riding through Carson City and Genoa was still pretty exciting for many.
“It was just really fun,” said Leah Norris, 62, of Howell, Mich., whose holiday visit to Genoa came with the special snapshot of history. “It was fun to experience it.”
In a red shirt and yellow bandana, rider Jon Bukowy, 44, of Carson City, said his short stretch halfway into Genoa along Jacks Valley Road wasn’t easy. He is used to traveling in the 18-wheel truck that he drives for work.
“I put on 120,000 miles a year, and 2.9 miles just about killed me today,” Bukowy said. “It’s quite the experience.”
More than 550 riders are participating in the ride this year held by the National Pony Express Association. The riders are carrying a special leather mochila — Spanish for “backpack” — passing on mail that started in Missouri last week.
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The 1,966-mile route follows the Pony Express National Historic Trail from St. Joseph, Mo., through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, and will end in Old Town Sacramento.
The mail traveled through Carson City, a little more than an hour behind schedule, along Jacks Valley Road into Genoa. Riders then took the old gravel road up Kingsbury Grade — following the original route. The trip is a 24-hour-a-day relay.
Riders were delayed as long as four hours earlier Wednesday, but made up a good portion of the time before they passed through Carson, said rider Jason Royur.
The original Pony Express lasted only 18 months and was started by the Missouri freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell. The mail delivery service was an attempt to capture a proposed mail contract, providing 10-day service between the terminal points.
Forty riders were in the saddle in each direction at any time and the operation included 190 stations and 400 station keepers. Riders were paid $25 a week and rode 10-12 miles before changing horses. Each rider completed 75 miles before being relieved.