In 1859 the Pony Express linked the east coast of the United to the West, a 1900 mile run from St. Joseph Missouri – the end of the telegraph line – to Sacramento California. The riders were often lightweight teenage boys, most notably Buffalo Bill.
Today “neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop the Hashknife Pony Express. Each January for the last 54 years, the old west is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona.”
When they cantered up The Avenue of the Fountains an unexpected lump came up in my throat. Although growing up on the east coast, many iconic images of the west are woven into the fabric of my childhood: the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yosemite, Yellowstone, saguaro cactuses, California redwoods, giant sequoias, pioneers, wagon trains, cowboys. And the Pony Express.
America and Americans suffer a poor image abroad thanks to moronic celebrities, stupid movies, unfunny sitcoms, intrusive media, grasping politicians and greedy corporations but there are many more reasons to be proud of my country and my fellow Americans and The Hashknife Pony Express exemplifies this.
They epitomize the grit and determination of our forebears. Much of the landscape of the West is unforgiving – expansive deserts, dense forests, vast mountain ranges and worse places, like Death Valley where the temperature once reached 134º F and badlands, rocky terrains remarkable to see but treacherous to navigate. I have admired the beauty of these places from the comfort of a climate controlled vehicle and am constantly astounded at the resolve of my countrymen who came west – on foot, in wagons and on horseback.
The Hashknife Pony Express finishes their 200 mile mail run today in Scottsdale AZ.