(Frank) Ready or not – here we are again. (Deb) Here comes the Pony Express; here comes the mail! (Frank) Pony Express, I still can’t imagine riding full gallop for 20 miles. It was really short-lived. (Deb) Yeah, it was. (Frank) The telegraph kind of put them out of business. And then the same company started the Overland Stage Company, which was also short-lived. (Deb) Well, things were changing so fast, and that’s one of the coolest things about the 19th century. I mean, everybody that knows me knows how I worship Buffalo Bill Cody, and one of the things that I love about Cody, he embodies all that change going on in America. He lived through every step of it. When he was a child he sees a sea of wagons at Leavenworth, all headed west. And then one of my favorite photos of him, and he’s on the Pony Express, is Cody maybe just a year of so before he died, and he’s standing there looking up at an airplane. So he lived through all of that change, the railroads, all just coming just like that…smack, smack, smack. Something is being outdated and something is being created. It was a scary time, but what an exciting time to live. (Frank) Oh yeah, it had to be. Of course you say the Good Ole Days, but still… (Deb) Oh no. (Frank) But the west was open, it was free if you wanted to go west, you could do about anything you wanted to. (Deb) Anything, you could do anything. You could get out, find out about it and enjoy it. Let’s take a look. Even though the Pony Express lasted just 18 months, its impression on the imagination lingers. The goal was to provide a mail route from St. Joseph, Missouri, to California that was faster than the Overland Stage. Johnny Fry was one of nearly 200 young men selected to take part in an ambitious endeavor. Fry carried a mail pouch on the first leg. Fry was scheduled to leave the station at 5 p.m. April 3, 1860, with his parcel, but the train delivering his pouch was delayed and he did not depart until 7:15 p.m. A cannon boomed, the brass band played, and a crowd of people cheered as Fry’s mount raced from the station. They headed west to Seneca, Kansas, a distance of 80 miles with the leather “mochila” that held 49 letters, five telegrams, and special edition newspapers. Fry’s horse galloped the short distance to the ferry, which transported them across the Missouri River. At Elwood, Kansas, they followed the trail through the wooded bottoms, across the Kickapoo reservation, and to Seneca, where another rider and horse were ready to continue the trek. Express horses carried a maximum of 165 pounds, which included the 20-pound mochila and the rider whose weight could not exceed 125 pounds. Other items were a water sack, a horn to alert the station, a Bible, and two weapons: a revolver and optional rifle. Fresh horses were provided every 10 to 15 miles at stations along the trail. Two minutes was allowed to switch horses and transfer the mail pouch before heading off on the next leg. Riders were replaced every 60 to 80 miles. Fry went on to become a soldier in the Union army and was killed in 1863 in Baxter Springs in conflict with William Quantrill’s raiders. All Pony Express envelopes coming from California were hand canceled with Atchison as the postmark and carried the Famous Wells Fargo Pony Express Stamp.
(Frank) Well, we have to go again. (Deb) But we’ll see you at the Rodeo! (Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) We’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas!
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