Today the annual Pony Express ride gallops through Carson Valley. For four hours this morning people will actually be able to see how communication worked in the middle of the 19th Century.
While electronic communication in the form of the telegraph predated the Pony Express, the technology wasn’t as old as the Internet is now when the freight firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell founded the Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Co.
Two score riders took 10 days to move the mail from Missouri to Sacramento. According to the Pony Express, the company maintained 190 stations and 400 station keepers.
Those riders were paid $25 a week and would ride 75 miles before being relieved.
The transcontinental telegraph line put the Pony Express out of business Oct. 24, 1861, after only 18 months.
Today, the riders are volunteers and 750 of them make the 1,966-mile trek across eight states. A half-dozen riders will transport the mochila carrying the mail from Jacks Valley to Stateline today.
The electronic communication that ended the Pony Express’ brief existence has helped preserve the re-ride, providing a means for members of the National Pony Express Association to stay in touch. Tracking the riders as are Ham radio operators calling in periodic reports from the trail.
Here’s hoping riders across this country continue to don the red shirt and yellow neckerchief of the Pony Express, to remind future generations that not so long ago, critical connections were maintained not by wire, or radio, but by a person on horseback.