Riders re-enact Pony Express run | RecordCourier.com

Riders re-enact Pony Express run

Holly Atchison

The 137th re-ride of the Pony Express came through the area on Monday, recreating the exchange of letters of the original Pony Express riders of the 1860’s.

The re-enactment was conducted by the National Pony Express Association.

The ride began June 14 in St. Joseph, Missouri and ended June 24 at Sacramento. The 1,966-mile route followed the Pony Express National Historic Trail, passing through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

The event lasted 10 days and is the longest equestrian event in the nation.

A ceremony was held at the legislative building in Carson City, commending the riders and honoring a Nebraska man who died on his horse during the re-run. A riderless horse was led into the building, and a moment of silence was held in his honor.

Minden resident Butch Barone, 82, was the rider who traveled from the legislative building to Fuji Park. His horse’s name is Burt.

Barone has been riding in the re-run since it began in 1978.

“It’s fun,” he said.

Don Hellwinkel, also from Minden, was the rider from the Little Mondeaux ranch in Jacks Valley to the Mormon Station in Genoa.

He has also been riding since 1978. His horse Rusty, however, was a newcomer.

“It was very warm. I had a new horse, and he gave me a bit of trouble,” he said.

Don Hellwinkel’s wife, Marlena Hellwinkel, took over at Mormon Station and rode to the foot of old Kingsbury Grade.

Her horse, Irish, has been riding in the re-run since 1978. Marlena said she will most likely be retiring Irish soon.

Marlena was the first woman in the area to participate in the re-run. She began in 1991 once the association allowed women to ride.

Women were never allowed to to ride in the original Pony Express Marlena said.

She said she enjoys the historical value and the excitement of the re-run.

“It’s fun,” she said.

Riders delivered commemorative letters and special correspondence to each stop along the way.

The Sierra Intermountain Emergency Radio Association (SIERA) accompanied the riders through the state, providing emergency communications. They have been doing this since 1989, according to Al Bertone, team leader for SIERA.

The original Pony Express ran from April 1860 to October 1861. A total of 34,753 pieces of mail were delivered in the 18-month span.

The Pony Express was ended with the spread of the telegraph to Salt Lake City, Utah.