April 14, 2010 - The Pony Express may be 150 years old, but the celebration continues! Speakers from the National Pony Express Association, Inc. discuss how they honor the Pony Express today. Find out about the 1983 Slide Ride when members of the organization saddled up to ride the mail between two California towns made inaccessible by an avalanche, the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay Ride, and other stories from the trail.
Pony Express Keeps Delivering
Kiah Berkely: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Kiah and I'm an educator here at the National Postal Museum.
And we are so excited to have everyone here. We want to say welcome to everyone who has come in for our lecture today.
At the Museum we are celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Pony Express this year. We've got a new exhibit. We've got some changes to our website and lots of different programs and events that are going on throughout the year to honor this anniversary.
So we're really excited to have all of these speakers here today who are going to tell us a little bit more about the Pony Express.
And a quick reminder to everyone here, this is being streamed live online. And so the microphones you probably can't hear anything coming out of it. And the reason for that is that it's for the benefit of the folks watching it at home and across the across the world basically.
So without further ado, we will introduce our first speaker.
This is Les Bennington who is the president of the National Pony Express Association.
Les Bennington: Thanks, Kiah, We certainly want to express our gratitude for everybody that's taking the time to be here today and watch this online.
This has been in the works for us for several years and we hope you enjoy it and glean some information about the original Pony Express. And also about the National Pony Express Association.
And we do a reride each year. This will be our 31st year of doing the reride into or across the eight states that make up the National Pony Express historic trail.
And without further ado I'll introduce Jim Swaggart. He's from California and he will give you some information, Jim.
Jim Swaggart: Well good afternoon. And it's a pleasure to be here today. I have been given the opportunity to tell you about a short-lived but at a very exciting event in our history of the Pony Express. This year our country is celebrating 150th Anniversary of the Pony Express. The Pony Express service service started in April of 1860. And it ended in November of 1861.
It was triggered, really in the 1849 with the discovery of gold in California. It created a mass movement of people from the East to the West to develop that into the country.
At that time, through the 1850s communication was possible from the West to the East and back.
But it was slow there were a couple choices one was they had ocean steamers and sailing ships coming out of New York all the way around the horn through the Isthmus of Panama.
But they were taking four to six weeks so communication wasn't getting in there for six weeks. t
The other choice was by 1858 the Butterfield stage line had been established and that was the southern route going down through what's now Texas, down through Arizona, Southern California, then up through the interior of California and getting to San Francisco. A little better but it was still about 20, 21 days of to get any kind of mail or information through.
At this time, there were three men that were the founding fathers of our Pony Express system. They were all very prominent and very successful men around the 1854 period.
The first man it was involved was William Russell. Russell was an entrepreneur, a speculator. He was involved in a number of investments, banking, railroading, and freighting. In 1854 Russell held a government contract supplying goods to Western forts he had approximately about 1,700 men under his employment at that time.
The second guy was Alexander Majors. Sort of an exact opposite of Russell, he was a farmer, a hard worker, a very religious man. He was also very smart and an opportunist. Also, he saw that in 1848 a chance to all we'll make some money hauling freight. So in 1848, he obtained five wagons started hauling freight on the Southern Route. And just in a period of from 1848 to about 1854, he'd expanded his business about a hundred wagons and he was a direct competitor to Russell.
The third gentleman involved in this project was William Waddell. Waddell was a smart man, a businessman. I had read somewhere where he married into some money. My dad always said that wasn't a bad idea, but it I know that gave him a little bit of a foothold. So he got into business and he was a very successful merchant. And he was also involved in banking and insurance enterprises.
All three of these men resided in Missouri at this time. It is this frame Waddell lived across the street from Russell and by the 1850s, the two men were both involved in not only neighbors and businessman, but they had gotten involved in some business ventures together.
Then by 1855, we've got Russell approaching Majors, and he's his competition now. And so he approaches Majors with Waddell as a partner.
And I wanted to see if they could partner up and incorporate and sort of get it get a conglomerate of on the freighting business. And that's exactly what they ended up doing.
They created a central Overland in California Pikes Peak expressed company. They basically monopolized the freighting industry and they were making lots of money.
Now we go to about January of 1860. Russell is in Washington DC, he meets up with Senator Gwynn of California proposing to Gwen an idea of a Pony Express mail service across the United States through the Central Route. And he would be leaving they would leave St. Joseph, Missouri and they would go to San Francisco, California. They would be covering 1966 miles and he proposed to do it in ten days the general feeling was that it did they didn't quite think it was going to work.
The government wasn't interested in giving out any kind of a mail contract or anything for a speculative idea there, whether it worked or not.
Russell's partners weren't real thrilled about getting him to fall this either. It looked like a business that was going to draw a lot of money. And there again no guarantee it was going to be a profitable one.
Russell convinced the partners that it would be a good idea. He was convinced that if we could prove that, it could be done in ten days. They would certainly get a mail contract and we'd have some money now.
This is January 1860, so Russell proposes that he'll have his service, his mail service, established, up and running in about three months. So he's going to have it up and running by April. This is where it starts to get a little impressive because now you've got a business that's going from an idea to functional in less than three months time.
He's got to establish remount stations every 12 to 15 miles providing fresh horses. He's got to purchase approximately 500 horses to accomplish this. They were paying about $175 a horse at that time. And that figures out to about $87,000 outlay of cash at that time for horses. They needed riders of course, as you've all heard young, wiry, skinny, orphans preferred.
And so they were out looking for riders. They were going to, each rider was going to have to be responsible for minimum 65 to 75 miles of distance. And so they're going to need at least 40 riders or possibly more as they needed to replace them.
They were going to have to hire station keepers where the horses were stationed. There were gonna have to be somebody there to maintain the horses. So the writers could come in and then be transferred over. They needed equipment.
They had to acquire saddles. McClellan's was with the saddle of preference. It was an old US Cavalry saddle, lightweight wood should work out pretty good. The Mochilla, which you've all have had a chance to maybe see, they needed something as a mail pouch to carry or transfer the letters through. Their goal was a fresh horse would travel about 8 to 11 miles an hour. They would travel day and night. They would cover 250 miles a day, and they would be able to go from one location St. Joseph to San Francisco accomplishing that in 10 days.
We to jump ahead. Our organization does the rear. I'd say we have the same goal in mind. We still try to do it in 10 days. We still try to go day and night just as they do. There's a lot of guys in here that have traveled that much.
The whole distance and they can tell you it just doesn't quite work that way. Mother Nature can always change things but there were route supervisors. There was a whole structure of employees needed to set this up. And get this thing established. The, initially, the writers were loaded down with a rifle, a knife, a pistol, a bugle, and a Bible. If anyone's done any try speed on a horse, weight is the issue. They were just, they had way too much stuff. So most of the riders discarded everything but their 36 caliber, in 1851 Navy Colt, and everybody would like to think they kept their Bibles.
So, but I'd like to talk about some riders you've had a chance to walk around the museum and see some of the different things there were some names, that I'll mention that are familiar to you Johnny Fry, William Cody, Buffalo Bill he was a rider at about 16 and rode for the Pony Express. William Hamilton another rider Robert Haslam which was later known as Pony Bob now.
Little story got to tell you about Pony Bob May of 1860, he's stationed at Friday station, a Friday station for you that don't know, is late Lake Tahoe right at the state line between California, Nevada is Lake Tahoe and that's right past on the other side of state line is righty station he rode he took the ride at Friday's station took it for his 75 mile ride when he went Eastbound on his 75 mile ride, the rider that was to take it over from there, refuse to go.
There was Indian problems, Indian attacks he said, I ain't going, so they asked Bonnie Mom. We said, would you, would you carry on? I'll do it. So he takes on and does the next leg. Also at the end of that ride he had done 190 miles non-stop. He then ends up getting about a nine-hour rest before the Mochilla has come from the westbound direction he's got to turn around and go back. He turns back around, heads back and does the exact same route he had already accomplished. And so he logged in 380 miles, when the longest rides.
Another rider I wanted to mention was William Warrant Upson. If you're done in the museum you saw Warren talking about his ride in the museum here. Warren was out of Sportsman's Hall. Now Sportsman's Hall is located in Pollock Pines, California. So he's on the west side of the Sierra Nevadas was riding through the Sierra Nevadas and he was writing to Friday Station. Now I live in Pollock Pines in California. I ride the Sierra Nevadas and have been doing it for 20 years. It's a great place to ride. I I pick a nice sunny day no snow, and it's a beautiful ride. I can tell you if, if there's a storm going on we don't even try to get to Lake Tahoe and four-wheel drive on the highway, you know it, just, it just doesn't happen. These guys and it was reported that when he left in April and I was confirmed when I walked through the museum thing, when he left, when Warren left in April, he was riding into a snowstorm. It was, I read it was a blizzard and he was riding into a blizzard. And he crossed those Sierra Nevada mountains to Friday station in a snowstorm. For me, that's just phenomenal and also unbelievable. So anyway, the Pony Express had a short life of 18 months. By October of 1861, the transcontinental telegraph was coming through. Shortly after that, the railroad had come through and the life of the Pony Express came to a halt.
To kind of summarize this for you, the Pony Express was a financial disaster. They, the investors, the founding fathers never receive a government mail contract. The three founding fathers as a result of the outlay of cash ended up in bankruptcy. So from that standpoint, it was a failure. But the flip side of it was the pony rider proved, they proved that in 10 days a mail service could be done. They accomplished the accomplishments, the feats of the Pony Express rider, the pony rider himself have become legendary. The short-lived but, but, but, a very colorful part of our history was the Pony Express. Brave, young riders and fast horses enduring heat, rain, snow storms, and Indian attacks. The pony riders were the true heroes of the Old West.
Thank you, thank you, Jim.
Our next speaker, Pat Hardy pets one of the past national presence and it lives South Jordan, Utah. Pat.
Thanks, Les. I've been asked to talk a little bit about our association today.
National Pony Express Association was incorporated in the state of California in 1978 for the purposes of establishing marking and reriding the Pony Express trail, and keeping that spirit alive.
Since that time, the Association has gained an international reputation as a principal resource for all things concerning the Pony Express. I'd like to briefly speak about some of the significant events and accomplishments in the history of our organization. First big opportunity for NPEA came in April of 1983 when a thousand foot, a thousand foot long mudslide closed highway 50 in the Sierra Nevada mountains just near Jim's country, they're just east of Pollock Pines, California where mail delivery to the small towns such as Kyburz and Little Norway was interrupted.
I was cut off NPEA's founding president Malcolm McFarland was half joking with Patricia Peterson, the postmistress of in Pollock Pines. He suggested that the ponies could go. Mail could be carried over those mountain trails by Pony Express and it turned out not to be a joke. By April 15th, an agreement with the post office had been signed and Pony Express riders began carrying the US mail on horseback over 40 miles of trails and back roads to provide delivery to those isolated communities. The letters were relayed by nine riders each day, each riding about five miles segments.
The response was immediate and overwhelming. New paper articles quickly appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, papers in Chicago, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and as far away as Tokyo. TV coverage was similarly widespread. McFarland appeared live with Diane Sawyer on CBS Morning News. He did live radio interviews with stations in Sydney, Australia and the US military in Guam. Letters poured in from all over the world to be carried by the 20th Century Pony Express riders. Postmistress Peterson estimated that Pollock Pines post office had processed over 20,000 letters with the special hand cancellation produced for that event. By my own account this is from the newspaper.
Am I excited when I went to shave this morning, I put on my aftershave lotion first. Yes, you could say I'm excited all right. After a few days, the first few days the post office officials realized that a jeep could go where the horses were going. But the excitement was running so high that bulk and third-class mail were carried by Jeep and first-class letters continued to be transmitted by Pony Express. They continued this historic endeavor for about six weeks until the blockage of highway 50 was cleared and normal postal service was restored.
But during those six historic weeks the name of the Pony Express was on more times than at any time in previous hundred and twenty years. In 1985, in the country of Czechoslovakia, a group of horsemen decided to act upon their enthusiasm for the history of the American West by conducting a Pony Express ride of their own. They marked off a trail beginning in Prague and ending in the province of Morovia, about 250 miles to the east. And they started relaying a sack of a sack of mail Pony Express style across the country.
In 1989, they contacted our national president Ken Martin with the proposition for an international exchange. The idea caught the imagination of the American Pony Express riders. Although communication was extremely difficult, the plans were laid and the fall of the communist government during that winter travel arrangements considerably easier in June of 1990. Supported by Westerners International and hosted by members of NPEA riders arrived in California to take part in our 1990 Pony Express reride. We hope that we provided them the experience of a lifetime as they traveled almost the entire length of the trail sharing our homes, ridng our horses, they went back to their country with stories of feeling awed by the empty expanses of the Great Basin in Nevada, of being nervous in Kansas where they were expecting to be daily swept away by tornadoes. They were not great followers of the injunction against drinking intoxicated liquor which is founded our Pony Express. Oh but after the experiences, after the experiences on the Pony Express trail various groups of Westerners offered them the opportunity to take part in a cattle drive in the Midwest and to visit some of the Western history oriented museums and sites. They made many lifelong friends and spread goodwill wherever they went.
After the conclusion of the reride in America, six American writers and a couple of family members traveled to the Czech Republic to take part in the European Pony Express ride. The love and courtesy and hospitality shown to the American NPEA members cannot be overstated. They were celebrities there for a few days, shopping and sightseeing in Prague before the tourists found it, being honored and toasted by local government officials and receiving all manner of small gifts the Americans were sworn in as Czech riders in a solemn ceremony at a thousand year old castle in Bohemia.
The European Pony Express started off with a horse show and festival in a town called Kneeshack near Prague. Then for three days the mail pouch was passed in relays over the Czech Pony Express trail with the American riders taken their terns. You cannot describe the feeling of riding those spirited Czeck horses through the verdant countryside, through the lanes and the cobblestone streets, their little rural villages that were old when our Constitution was signed, and the wheat fields, and through the potato fields, and through the strawberry patches. Our Czeck, the Czeck guide was an interpreter, was asked if the farmers didn't get angry about the horses tearing up their crops. The reply, which was still with, very much with the communist attitude at that time, the reply was by the time they find out were gone.
The European trail branched into three, with one branch going to the Austrian border to the south and another going north into what was then East Germany. The Americans followed the original branch to where the ride ended in the Moravian town of Jevisovkou, with another horse show and a western festival. More than a few tears were shed when the American riders left for home.
In 1992 our first national president Mack McFarland saw one of his goals achieved, when on August 3rd, 1992, President George Herbert Walker Bush signed legislation officially authorizing the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Years of hard work and perseverance by a dedicated team including Ken and Arleta Martin, were rewarded when the trail was finally designated part of the National Trail System.
Next, as the city of Atlanta, Georgia planned for the 1996 Summer Olympics, they decided to carry the Olympic flame on a circuitous route of 15,000 miles through 42 states, with the torch being carried by a number of modes of travel. They chose to include travel by Pony Express, and they chose the National Pony Express Association to do the job. After careful study of our capabilities and procedures, the Torch Relay Committee marked off a 538 mile stretch of the Pony Express National Historic Trail between Julesburg, Colorado and St. Joseph, Missouri. Pony Express riders took custody of the torch on May 13th, 1996, in Julesburg. The winds were so strong that the flame had to be carried in an enclosed lantern at times. At other times, the Midwest summer sun and humidity made the going heavy for both riders and mounts. But our riders were proud to take part under any conditions. They rode day and night in true Pony Express fashion, and they were met with a hero's welcome at every town and nearly every crossroads along the way, through Nebraska and Kansas. They delivered their precious cargo in St. Joseph Missouri on May 16th.
Over 300 riders representing all Pony Express trail states took part riding one and two miles each. None will ever forget the thrill of that opportunity. Two of my sons participated. And the round-trip drive of 2,000 miles was a small price to pay to see the look of pride on their faces as they rode with the torch in their hand. It was a privilege that few have had.
In 2002, the Olympics again let the light shine on the National Pony Express Association. This time it was the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The torch relay which again covered thousands of miles by several modes of travel was pretty closed this time but they did allow the flame to travel about five miles along the trail between Eagle Mountain and Fairfield, Utah by pony and rider. At Camp Floyd State Park in Fairfield, the site of an original Pony Express station. An estimated one to two thousand people came in sub-freezing temperatures to see the torchbearer ride in with a fife and drum corps playing martial music. The torch relay really had a life of its own.
At Soldier Hollow, site of the cross-country skiing and biathlon events, local promoters put up a Western experience village for the entertainment of visitors to that venue. They had a cowboy camp, Indian teepees, mountain men, mustangs, buffalo, etc.
A couple of our members in Utah, Jack Rhodes and Dean Atkin, decided that they couldn't go ahead without a Pony Express station. Using donated barn logs, Jack and Dean designed and built a replica station in a corral for horses furnished by Joe Hatch. Our members came from all across the trail to help out. And Floyd and Voodoo are two of the most photographed horses anywhere. They can be found in photo albums all over the world as Olympic visitors and athletes from everywhere, stopped to warm by the fire, and learn a little Pony Express history.
Olympic President Jacques Rogge, Canadian figure skating champion Jamie Salé, and the king of Sweden were included in our visitors that year; another big win for the Association.
After the Winter Olympics had packed up and gone, the cabin was picked up by a large crane and loaded on a flatbed trailer for a windy trip to Salt Lake City. It now stands interpreted as a Pony Express Station near the spectacular bronze statue by Dr. Albert Fairbanks at This is the Place Heritage Park on the East Bench of Salt Lake City. Make sure you pay that area visit when you're in Utah.
Last year, in 2009, we conducted and celebrated our 30th annual reride of the Pony Express Trail. Approximately 500 horses and riders, almost 2,000 miles, day and night for 10 days, between St. Joseph and Sacramento, every year for 30 years. In Utah alone, we've worked with film crews from Italy, Germany, and England, horsemen have come from Australia, South Africa, England, Germany, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere to take part in our rerides. Now in 2010 were celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the historic events of 1860.
Thank you for joining us today and stay tuned to see what we come up with next.
Thank you, Pat. I forgot to mention too, we especially want to thank the people here at the US Postal Museum for their hosting this event. And Aaron Mahr, he's superintendent of the Intermountain Region, Long Distance Trails Office is going to give you a few words. And Aaron if you would be sure and recognize your people that you have here today too.
Aaron Mahr: Good afternoon everybody. It's been wonderful just walking through the museum this morning and seeing a lot of the friends in the Association. I've seen a lot of people's faces light up when they see me. They don't usually see me in uniform. I'm not usually in uniform; I'm usually out in the field walking over the trail. So it's been really nice to see people recognize the National Park Service. I really don't wear the uniform much at all. It's very infrequent and this is one of those rare occasions. I'm here to tell you, yes, it does shrink, especially when you wear it once a year.
Thank you very much, Jim. Thank you very much for the great words you gave today. The National Park Service is really proud to be a partner in this event, and in the development of the National Historic Trail. And we've been a partner for quite a while in the development of trails, established in '92. And the Association has just been a fantastic partner in this. And I just want to really acknowledge the great work you've done, and also acknowledge the great work you've done for the sesquicentennial celebration. It's really wonderful to see see this type of dedication. Particularly I want to recognize Ken and Arleta Martin. You've just done such a fantastic job.
I can tell you Ken, and Arleta in particular, you're one of the most tenacious, and dedicated, and devoted people I've ever come across in the trails community. And this in particular, the Association has done so much to do this, to get this event here today. But, I know it couldn't have happened without the hard work of Ken and Arleta. Thank you very much for the work you've done here.
The Association, you've heard the stuff that they've done over the last couple of years, over the last 30, or more than 30 years. And it's really noteworthy. There's just been so much that's happened across the trail because of the work and the partnership that the Association has been involved with.
They've talked about the reride which has just been a great way to really bring attention to the trail and to commemorate this short-lived event in our history. But to really raise awareness across the length of the trail, and now we're bringing it here to Washington. So the reride has just been a fantastic event in helping people to recognize the significance of the trail.
They do other things too. They bring the trail to schools. It raised kid's awareness of our real complex history. And that's a real valuable thing because kids don't really understand just how important this was to our nation's history. And just bringing history to kids alone is important, but to be able to bring this type of particular historical event is really noteworthy. I know they bring their horses, and they bring all of the accoutrements, and that really gets kids charged up. So that's a really exciting thing to happen.
There's a lot of charity work the Association does for kids also. And that's a really noteworthy contribution that the association makes.
There's another very important thing that they do, the Association is a very effective advocate for the trail. And this is not only going to Congress and making Congress aware of the needs for the trail, but it's also just advocating within the public for preservation, for developing sites. All the things that you all do, it's so important, keeping the trail alive and making it more accessible and available to a larger public.
So, that's a very noteworthy thing. Perhaps most important from our perspective, in the National Park Service, is that the association was instrumental in getting the trail established as a National Historic Trail back in 1992. And that's pretty noteworthy because there aren't that many trails in the system. There are only, I think, twenty National Historic Trails in the system. Nineteen? Thank you. Steve Elkington who's our program manager from Washington.
And Les did ask me to introduce people so let's do that real quickly. I'm here with my colleague Chuck Milliken who is our Interpretive Specialist in the office. I don't see anybody else here from the National Park Service. I think there's the three of us. And I think we'll have some additional representatives tomorrow when we do the public ceremony outside.
But they're nineteen trails in the system. So it's a very precious resource. It's a very precious element in our entire National Park Service system, in our entire Federal system the recognizing this significant advancement in history.
So getting the trail established was a very significant event. It's an incredible resource. For those of you who know it very well, you know exactly what we're talking about. For those of you who don't, learn more about it. I think you will be really amazed at the resources that we have. This is a trail that stretches over 2,000 miles across eight states. It offers people just an absolutely incredible journey. It goes through the flood plain of the Mississippi River, over the plains of Kansas, goes along the Great Platte River Road in Nebraska, crosses the Rocky Mountains, crosses Great Western Desert in Utah and Nevada, goes across the Sierra Nevada as Jim was talking about, and it ends in San Francisco, the great metropolis. It's really an amazing journey and you know we've got many sites along the way where you can visit and learn about the trail. But travel the trail and then you start to really understand, you start to understand, what the history is all about.
And that's the wonderful thing about the trail, in the floodplain of Mississippi River, in St. Joe's or in, um, um [inaudible]. I was going to ask you if I'm pronouncing it correctly or not. You can't really understand the trail unless you've been on the crest of the Rocky Mountains or unless you've been in the crest of the Sierra Nevadas. You really don't get an understanding unless you travel the whole trail, unless you experience the footsteps of the people, or the horse steps of the people that actually travel on the trail. That's what's the great thing about the trail, it really ties all these disparate resources together and really gets you within the perspective of the people that really traveled across this route back to the early 1860s. So travel the trail; you start to really understand what the Pony Express was all about.
The National Historic Trail really pursues that. It helps people to try and understand the trail by experiencing the trail, by getting out on the ground and actually being there. And that's what we try and do in the partnership that we have, the National Park Service has with the Pony Express Association, with the NPA, with our other Federal partners like the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, with a multitude of private land owners across the trail. We try to help people preserve elements of the trail and we try to help them develop it for visitor use, that people who come and actually experience the trail.
And there's a lot that's gone on the trail. There are a lot of places where there's nothing left of what existed back in the 1860s. But there is some things that are still there. There are some some great resources out there. Go to the Western Desert in Utah and Nevada. And go over the Bureau of Land Management's historic backcountry, by the way, and you really get a feeling for what the trail was like.
Bureau of Land Management also does spectacular work in protecting and preserving South Pass. If you've ever been to South Pass, it's one of the most important sites in American history. I would suggest, I'm sure many people in this room would agree with me, this is one of the most amazing sites for western migration, Pony Express, and for just understanding the course of American history where so much happened, for such a short, short kind of funnel or conduit of landscape. So these are opportunities to really, really experience the trail as what it was back in 1860.
We in the National Park Service work with a number of different partners to help people, not only to go to these precious sites, but to follow the trail. And we've done that in a number of different ways. We have developed an auto tour route so that in areas where you possibly can't see the original trail, at least you could follow the route. And we've got highway signage to help people follow the route from along the whole 2000 mile corridor. We've also developed auto-to-route guides. We're in the process of developing the guides for people to follow these and direct them to areas where you still can see elements of the trail, or where perhaps local museums, or local visitors centers can help you understand the local history associated with the trail or the larger history of the trail through the state.
And we're really proud of the effort that Chuck Milliken has put into developing these. And he's in the process right now of completing some additional ones. Eventually we're going to have the routes, the auto-to-route guides to the entire, through the entire length of the trail. These are free to the public. If you visit a site along the trail, chances are you'll be able to pick one up and it'll really give you a sense of how to cross the landscape and where to go in different states to visit trail resources.
We're doing a lot of interpretive media along the route. We've got a lot of wayside exhibits, standard types of interpretive tools that you can go to parks or you can go to public lands, or other places for that matter, you can learn about a particular resource and see the resource and really get a contextual understanding for what you're seeing.
We've got other type of interpretive media. We've got web pages. You can visit NPS.gov/poex is our webpage. And that will link to the Pony Express Association's webpage or I believe vice versa so that you'll be able to navigate through the wealth of information about the trail.
So there's a lot of ways now you can experience the trail. There's a lot to look forward to, also. There is a lot that we collectively, everyone in this room or Association members in this room, and hopefully a large amount of you were are gaining some interest and some some knowledge about the trail, and look forward to participating in.
There's still a lot of work to be done to preserve the trail. There's still a lot of resources out there. There's stuff that people know about, we haven't done enough to actually protect and to put mechanisms in place to protect the trail. We're still out there identifying segments of the trail or identifying important sites along the trail. There are over 170 stations or way sides where riders changed, or horses changed. These are important sites. There aren't many left on the ground. There are some, but there aren't many. But we we know the general location of these and we're pursuing archaeological investigations. For example, working with the Central Wyoming College to do some, to do investigations of archaeological sites along the trail to help understand the material culture of what happened at these stations.
We're working with several state historic preservation offices to document these sites and get them on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a critical tool that we have to help in raising the public's awareness of the importance of these sites and to help in putting some element of protection towards these sites.
And I'm getting cut off now but I'll go very quickly.
So there are a number of different types of things that we're after to try and preserve the trail and to make sure that it's there for future generations. We're also working to, we're also working with the Bureau of Land Management in particular, to help people to understand that there are other elements to preserving the trail, besides just a tread on the ground or besides the historic site.
There are other intrinsic qualities of the landscape that help people to understand and to experience what the trail was like back in the 1860s. And that's an important aspect of this because now we're looking not just at the tread but we're looking at a corridor that has many different aspects that can help people understand it, to experience, to have that vicarious experience of traveling on the trail.
We're working with different entities to develop visitor use that people come and visit the trail. We're doing much more signing. We've developed local tour route signings that people can actually follow, closer than highways, but actually get off onto dirt roads or onto local roads you can actually get just that much closer to the original route. And we're also doing the additional auto-to-route guides that Chuck's working on. We expect this year to put out the Utah guide and the Nevada guide. So we're getting close to finishing. California will be next and we hope to have that done sometime hopefully before 2014.
We're also reaching out to underrepresented communities. This was not barren vacant land that the riders went over. We've held tribal listening sessions to hear what Native American concerns are about, or not concerns, but how they saw this history and what contributions they might be able to make to the comprehensive telling of the story.
And then one final thing some of you may know, the Public Lands Act of 2009, called for traditional studies of the immigration routes and the Pony Express with intention of telling the much more comprehensive and complete story of the of the trail. And for the Pony Express trail there's at least one route from Wathena to Troy in Kansas. It's called the southern alternate route. It's only 20 miles long. It's a route we know that riders used but it's not part of the National Historic Trail. We're going to study that and determine whether it meets the criteria for the National Trail System.
So having said that, I just want to say congratulations to everybody for the hard work that everyone's put together to have this conference here today, or have this workshop here today. All the things we talked about, all the things that my fellow panelists have talked about, I'm convinced that 50 years from now, and in 20 years, in 2060, we're going to have a fantastic Bicentennial and I think people are going to be just as excited then as they are now. Thank you very much.
Les Bennington: The map is here. We wanted to give a special presentation map to the Postal Museum for display, if they can display it in the future. And if any of you have any questions, there's I think, six of the eight Pony Express trail states here, feel free to ask anybody in a red shirt and brown vest or Aaron if you have to take your questions. Steve, thanks again for showing up. And any of you that before you leave, like I said, ask questions. If somebody doesn't know, they'll refer you to somebody that hopefully will have an answer for you.
The map, Kim. And if any of you can make it over to Constitution, what is it that, Senate Park, over here by the Capitol tomorrow. You want to talk about it? Union Station Plaza. Close by. We're going to do a horse exchange and take some thank you letters to the congressional people of the eight states that are part of the Pony Express.
Okay, this map has just been done. This one here we're going to give to the Postal Museum because it's the first one of its kind. We just got it Saturday afternoon, and so it's brand new and we're quite excited about it. What we tried to do is put the map, there are a lot of these older maps that do not have the cut-offs on them. This does have whatever wer're just talking about on the other end there, showing on here. We're really excited about it. We've been working on this for about four years. We filled in, tried to get about two stations from each state, except for Colorado and Missouri because they only had one or two. And so that's where we're at right now. I won't bore you anymore. But we want you folks to have this and wear it well.
Jeff Meade: What a fabulous gift. My name is Jeff Meade. I'm the school and tour coordinator here at the National Postal Museum and I was put in charge of this Pony Express redesigned exhibit that we have for the 150th Anniversary. And just from my personal perspective, I think you can see that I enjoy the Pony Express story quite a bit too. And I've been making jokes today that my shirts not quite as red as everybody else's maybe it's because I'm a city slicker and mine comes out a little bit pinker. I'm not sure. But this is fascinating and actually one of the things that I'm really excited about is geography of the route itself. We've been currently working on a map project right now. And we've been trying to actually turn a map of the route into a three-dimensional kind of object that we can actually touch and feel, and compare the geography of Kansas and Nebraska to some of the geography of the Tahoe region and some of the different lands out in Nevada and Utah. And to me this such a good and useful tool and piece of information.
And honestly I would like to thank everyone that's a member of the National Pony Express Association. I'm wearing my badge. I joined the association last year as well. I'm very interested in how people come in and interact with history and interact with the Pony Express in particular, especially since it was such a short-lived business endeavor, and we've established that it wasn't a financially profitable business endeavor.
But the story itself has grown larger than the actual facts. And I think that it's really exciting to see how people actually come into places like museums and engage in these various aspects of our history. And when people walk in and they start tours with me, I always ask what do they expect to see in a postal museum and everybody says, stamps. And I say, yep, we've got some stamps. And by the end of my tour everyone's a stamp collector.
But the other thing that everyone expects to see is the Pony Express. And I think that it's a story that we actually need to tell. And we had mentioned that unfortunately the Post Office Department at the time did not offer a contract to Russell, Majors, and Waddell. Perhaps they should have. But they have actually printed several different stamps using the Pony Express story as a way to promote their own own inefficiency. So, there's various aspects of this story. And, you know, it's interesting because every time I do tours in the Pony Express gallery, it seems like everybody's got a different take on it; whether or not Buffalo Bill was a Pony Express rider I'm I'm still not entirely convinced. I do know that he paid for the personal autobiography of Alexander Majors. About 30 years after the story took place, memories get fuzzy. I don't know.
But hey, it's neat to think that, in a way, we're all Pony Express riders. And I'm excited to be part of the moment and part of this anniversary. And hopefully I'll be around for the 200th too. Hope to see you there, right? All right.
Thanks everyone. Thank you very much!
Berkely: All right and I'm just gonna give anyone the opportunity for questions again.
If any of you public that's leaving here today, we've got a special pin for you, that you'll get at either door.
Berkely: All right so are there any other questions?
Audience: Were there any women riders?
Hearty: National Geographic took on the task of answering some of those questions in about 1978 when we first began this, and they turned up no evidence of women riders or of African-American riders. There were Hispanics. But, sorry. But it looks good on TV.
Berkely: Anyone else?
[Inauible audience comment.]
Alright you have another one?
Audience: I know the oath says that the boys were not to use, they were not to swear or use cussing. But I wonder how they kept those horses under control without cuss words.
Haha. No they were just well-trained horses.
Berkely: Any more questions? One more?
Audience: What was the true relationship between the Pony Express and the Native Americans? Because I know, in film they're portrayed as like, fighting and you know, battles and preventing the mail from actually getting through. But what was the accurate story with that?
Swaggert: The Paiute Indians were in Nevada. The Paiute Indians were the biggest problem were the Paiute Indians in Nevada. And yeah, there was, there was conflicts between the, I think it started more with the settlers than really the Pony Express riders. There was no infraction there so much. But there was a conflict, you know. I can't remember the whole story and I could make one up. But it was in a typical, typical white man probably taking advantage of somebody. And, so anyway, that led into and escalated into other problems. And so the Pony Express stations were easy targets. You had maybe one person there maintaining the horses, maybe two. The other great coup was horses. So they liked the idea of hitting some of the Pony Express stations to get some of the horses. So some of the station keepers were killed. And there was, there was some problems with the, with the Paiute Indians through Nevada. I think the, it was like a militia that came out of California that kind of came in and stepped out most of that. But it was resolved. But that was one of the biggest problems, financially for I mentioned that it was a disaster, as why, as far as financing the loss of horses and the loss of stations that were burnt down and and the loss of the station keepers and constantly trying to replenish those, those stations was a financial burden. So there were, there were Indian problems yes.
Mahr: Just to tear off of that a little bit, um, I mentioned that we just held on some tribal listening sessions. We held a listening session in Lawrence, Kansas out of the Haskell Indian School and in Reno, Nevada. And we had a lot of Paiute, which really interesting. But they had a couple of messages that they wanted to literally convey. And this is just initiating that discussion now. We're just starting to out reach to the tribal communities.
But they had two things in particular that they wanted to talk about. First, was that all lands were home to somebody. This was their land. And it's not a question of what exists now for them. It's just they want people to understand that this was land that was well known and that they use the land. And second of all, that the relations with the people that came across, whether traveling across are ultimately settling, the relations are very complex. And they talked a lot about helping people, helping people that came through their country, and knowing people, and having a lot of social intercourse with people, and exchanging gifts, exchanging supplies. So that the, there were conflicts. There's no question about that. There were conflicts along all of the trails. But um, that's one message that really came through, in listening to tribal people tell their stories was that there there was a lot of contact and there was a lot of mutual respect at times for a lot of the native groups there. So, it was really fascinating to hear that and very, very enlightening also to hear that, that the relationship is actually quite complex.
Berkely: Alright, we have time for one or two more questions, if anyone has any? All right, one more?
Audience: Wonderful presentations overall. Just I guess, a quick question concerning the context of the time there. Of course the nation was very quickly approaching the Civil War, I'd like [inaudible] in here, hear any comments with respect to California at that time. I've heard the case made that the Pony Express played some role in helping to ensure that California stayed in the Union camp during the war just because there was a closer linkage than before. With what was going on here in the nation's capital and in the eastern part of the United States in general. I'd just be interested to hear any thoughts on that, if that's accurate or overblown.
Swaggert: I'll answer that. The other thing you should know is I'm not a historian of the group. So, but yes, it was a very important issue. And at that time California was more interested in the election; was Lincoln going to be in office or not? That was the issue. And so when when Lincoln became president there was a special -- again this is the way I heard it and I'm sticking to my story. But there was a special, if I'm not right, there was a special run of horses set up just to carry that information. And they carried that information to California who was waiting to hear, what, were we going to have Abraham Lincoln in as president or not. And if I, again, if I'm not mistaken, it was done in record time, I believe in about seven days instead of the normal ten. And, and that was a very important and turning point for California. You're right California was a state that was kind of bouncing back and forth; what were they going to do. And so when the word came in, it kind of pushed him toward a free state and that's the way it played out. But, yeah, a very important ride.
Meade: Well actually I'd like to offer something to that too. When we were actually doing research for the exhibit last fall, one of the things I was tasked with finding was newspaper accounts from the Daily Alton newspaper which was based out of, I think, Sacramento at the time. And the neat thing about the Daily Alton in the 1860s was that it maintained a column for news that had been delivered by the Pony Express. It was one of the newspaper's ways of actually promoting the use of the service itself. And I had to find some particularly interesting stories. So what do you do when in doubt when you're looking for dates in history, always check your birthday first right? So my birthday is November 25th, and I pulled it up and it happened to be the day that that Pony Express rider rode into Sacramento and was delivering the news of Lincoln's election. And it talks about how the pony was draped in all kinds of ribbons and all kinds of stuff. And I tried really hard to get that personal connection to my birthday in there, but was vetoed out. But you can actually see a copy of the Daily Alton in there right now. I think it's one of the dates from March. So, different kind of take on that story I guess.
Berkely: All right so we are out of time for our question and answer session but we'd like to invite everyone out into the Atrium of the museum next. There's some object exploration going on out there. And if you have more questions that you'd like to ask, sure, everyone will be available for more questions.
And don't forget to get a free pin on the way out.
And thank you everyone, so much, for coming.