Pony Express crosses borders
Woodfords, Calif. — Some may think that the mail traveling by horseback across seven states covering 1,943 miles is quite a feat.
Those numbers don’t hold a candle to the more than 6,000 miles a Czech Republic native has been traveling for nearly the last two decades to take part in the annual Pony Express Re-Ride.
“Two years ago I rode for the Nevada Chapter for the 10th time,” Peter Binhack said. “People like me like the spirit and the authenticity of the re-ride. That is what keeps me coming back.”
While Binhack didn’t spend time in the saddle this year, he still made the journey to the states to be a part of the event yet again.
Living oceans away doesn’t keep Binhack from celebrating the milestone and historic tradition that is the Pony Express.
“There is a Pony Express in Europe,” he said. “The Czech Republic chapter was established in 1985. This continues growing and growing in Europe. We try to find inspiration in the American Pony Express. We follow it as much as we can.”
The European version covers more than 2,000 miles and touches three seas, the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea.
Of the seven state chapters Binhack could have joined, Nevada was his choice and something he is very proud of.
“I really appreciate the atmosphere, the mood, and beauty of the Nevada countryside,” he said. “My German friend introduced me to his friend in Carson City and I am very happy I am apart of the Nevada chapter. Nevada is my second home.”
Binhack hopes to get back in the saddle next year for his 11th ride to commemorate his 20th year as a Nevada Chapter member.
For one California Chapter member the re-ride family is a way for her to reconnect with her roots.
“There are a lot of different horse groups out there,” Susan LaFrance said. “I grew up in the country riding in the hills almost as soon as I could. This was a perfect fit for me. I get to get out into the country.”
LaFrance and two other women thundered into Woodfords Station, LaFrance carrying the traditional mochila full of commemorative letters.
Seeing the Pony Express gallop into Woodfords was a first for Woodfords Station owners Linda Merrill and LaVerne VanConant.
The Station being open as the riders finished the California leg of the re-ride was much like sending the area back in time, when the story was opened by Merrill’s family and operated as a station stop for the original Pony Express while it ran for 19 months in 1860.
“It is so exciting to have the store open again,” Merrill said. “The horses and mail coming through here really bring history back to life.”
Talking to the more than 30 Pony Express California and Nevada Chapter members before the mail arrived nearly 45 minutes early reminded Merril of what her grandparents accomplished centuries ago.
Riders spent time in their hotel as well as took a load off and rest their horses at their store.
“This is awakening the whole history of my family,” Merrill said. “It is so exciting. It brings back memories of my family when they started it all and what they created and the evolution of this all and us being able to carry it forward.”
More than 500 riders will be a part of the re-ride as it makes its way to St. Joseph, Missouri.
For Binack, no matter where he is celebrating the historic staple of the Pony Express, he is reminded why he became a member and rider in the first place.
“There are three things that make the Pony Express what it is,” he said. “Those are carrying the mail, the friendship of the people and the fun that comes with each and every re-ride. We always have a good time.”
The rider left Mormon Station State Historic Park at noon. The ride will continue across Carson City and out into the Nevada desert.