“The Pony Express rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance. No matter what time of day or night his watch came on…, he must be always ready to leap into the saddle and be off like the wind! “ (Mark Twain,1872)
The Corona impact clearly lingers in our mind as we end the second week of our road trip. At our motel stay in Independence, Missouri on Tuesday, the atmosphere seemed eerily quiet in the hallways today with guest services quite limited. Thus, we would be offered a meager breakfast bag containing only a small apple and granola bar while any room cleaning would be unavailable. Moving on the next morning to the Pony Express National Museum in the historic river town of St. Joseph, Missouri, numerous hand sanitizer stations conspicuously lined the hallways while press button functions for interactive exhibits had been disabled. Ending our second day at a local tavern for dinner, I was also required to give my name and phone number to the manager present to receive a potential future call from the Health Department in the event anyone in the cafe was reported to be testing positive for Corona Virus at the time of our visit.
It seems to me the that our current road trip adventure into our Corona stricken country, resembles the quote description of an 1860 Pony Express rider described in the quote at the beginning of this blog. Instead of a western bandana around his face, we must wear a mask. While he endured far west dangers of extreme heat, wind, and rain, we resign ourselves to stay healthy from airborne viral particles. While he moved great distances daily through remote western lands on the legs of a sturdy pony to assure safe delivery of their goods, we largely depend on the air purified isolation of our vehicle to provide safe arrival at our intended faraway destinations. So let’s “giddy ‘up and go” as I provide a photographic look at the life of a Pony Express rider in the mid 19th century as so authentically depicted at this museum.
A Pony Express rider required unique qualifications to withstand the dangers they would face along each ride.
This panel provides a brief history of the Pony Express period in 1860-1861 as well as the typical route westward taken for almost 2,000 miles.
On April 3, 1869, a lone rider left on horseback to a wildly cheering crowd in St. Joseph, Missouri for the first Pony Express ride west to California.
The famous Pony Express rider, Johnny Fry and his horse seem anxious to leave on their latest adventure in this exhibit.
Riders usually stopped every 10-15 miles at relay stations to freshen up and often change horses.
A Pony Express rider typically carried 20 lbs. of mail per ride. Observe a typical saddlebag from these occasions.
Riders riding westward from St. Joseph encountered their first natural obstacle: the free flowing Missouri River.
This rider wore a fringe covered, buckskin coat on these long mail runs.
This map depicts the various stopping points on a typical rife westward surrounded by various dangers they would face along the way.