Pony Express, Genoa anniversary to be celebrated by historical society June 14 | RecordCourier.com
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Pony Express, Genoa anniversary to be celebrated by historical society June 14

by Billie Jean Rightmire

The Carson Valley Historical Society will celebrate Genoa’s 2001 sesquicentennial on June 14 during the Pony Express re-ride. The newly renovated Genoa Courthouse Museum will be open to visitors at 10 a.m.

Events will start at noon with a free Chautauqua presentation by Peggy Hannah, who will portray Joan of Arc, and Justin McMenomy, who will become John Moses Browning. “Joan of Arc” and “John Moses Browning,” will speak of their life events with museum visitors in the upstairs courtroom.

Marlena Hellwinkel, President of the historical society will participate in this year’s re-ride beginning at the Woodford Store in California and ending on Fairview Lane in Frederickburg Road, Nevada. Hellwinkel was the first woman to participate from Carson Valley in 1990, when women were first allowed to participate in The Pony Express Re-ride.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., Pony Express rider Art Rumple will ride into Genoa from the old Kingsbury Grade. With a quick exchange of the mochila (or mail bags) to Marv Davis’s mount near the Genoa Courthouse Museum, Jack’s Valley is the next destination at 4.1 miles north.

The second Chautauqua performance will begin at 1:30 p.m., with a visit from Clara Barton, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ghandi by Jenny McMenomy, Jack Cholin and Tyrel Dressler respectively. The Chautauqua characters will be in costume.

A Chautauqua is acting out or performing a character in the first person. The Chautauqua program is a joint effort between the Douglas County schools and the Carson Valley Historical Society. The presenters all attend Carson Valley schools.

While watching the Pony Express re-ride, everyone can enjoy a Polish sausage hot dog, cola and ice cream sundae. The food will be served at a small charge by members of the Carson Valley Historical Society from the front porch of the museum.

The Pony Express was started on April 3, 1860, by W. H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell, operators of the Overland Stage Line of Leavenworth, Kan. The starting point was in St. Joseph, Mo. and ran west to Sacramento, Calif. where the mail was loaded aboard a side-wheeler for San Francisco.

“Genoa Station” was a relay of swing station located near the center of town. Horses were kept in a stable across the street from the courthouse.

It was customary for each rider to travel approximately 30 miles, changing mounts at a relay, or “swing station,” twice on the shorter runs. The rider was expected to average nine miles an hour and was allowed only two minutes for changing horses. The weight limit of each mail bag was 10 to 20 pounds. Arriving at a relay station, the rider received a gulp of water and a bite of bread. It is said the time between Sacramento and Salt Lake City was three and a half days.

The express was discontinued in October of 1861 after being a little less than 18 months.