Pony Express rides again

Legendary delivery route turns 150 years old; returns to Folsom
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph Staff Writer
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Like a scene from an Old West movie, Folsom residents waited once again for the Pony Express. The Pony Express, which originated in 1861, turns 150 years old this year and the anniversary was marked with a re-ride. Congressman Dan Lungren gave the oath to the new rider at the change station in Folsom. “The Pony Express is a part of the American history and people don’t understand that Folsom was a part of the history,” said Lungren. Every June, members of the National Pony Express Association recreate the delivery service in a commemorative re-ride over a 10-day period. It began Monday last week. “This is the most romanticized piece of American history,” said David Kittle, the association’s Nevada Division president. During the re-ride, close to 2,500 letters are carried in a mochila over the original trail covering 1,966 miles and eight states. The weight is nearly 50 pounds, said Kittle. More than 550 riders participate. The ride lasts 24 hours a day until the mail is delivered to its destination. “I think it interests people because it’s an endeavor over 2,000 miles of man fighting the elements to get something done,” said Les Bennington, National Pony Express Association national president. “It’s a race against time and the elements.” This year, Pam Dixon, 42, rode into Folsom on her horse, Penny. Dixon raised Penny and was thrilled to ride her during the re-ride. Dixon is not new to these events. She has helped prepare her father Richard Dixon, a senior rider, for re-rides since she was a young girl. Richard, 77, explained that Pam helped groom his horse before his rides. When she was old enough and women were able to ride in the events, Pam jumped into the saddle. Today, Richard said they are the only father-daughter team to participate in the re-ride. Richard took the first ride out of Old Sacramento to Discovery Park before his daughter. Many families attended the event for an educational and historic standpoint. Rebecca Morrow, 43, of Roseville, brought her 6-year-old son Jack to witness the historic re-ride. “We are from Washington and thought this would be a fun and educational experience to come out to Folsom and see the Pony Express,” Morrow said. Lungren also presented an original copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address to the City and Library of Folsom. Folsom played a historic role in the nation and state, he said, as the stop where the Pony Express delivered the words of President Lincoln’s Inaugural Address to California. In 1861, the inaugural address was transported by Pony Express from St. Joseph, Mo., to Folsom. When it arrived in Folsom, it was then telegraphed to Sacramento and from there distributed across the state, according to Lungren. “This is a great opportunity to share in the history of California and Folsom,” Lungren said. “We talk about cell phones and the Internet and fast communication today, but we forget that people didn’t know things right away. So that’s why we are so excited to get this here today and let people know how important Folsom was in history.”