Locals will join in Pony Express
Did you ever see a statue come to life? Just show up at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on Thursday, and look hard at the Pony Express statue out in front … and watch as the real thing passes by on U.S. Highway 50, at about 5 p.m.
But don’t get in the way. Hey, the mail must get through.
“When I’m riding in this event, I fantasize about really riding in 1860,” said Phil Freeman, a resident of Tahoe Paradise who will be one of the riders on the 1999 Pony Express Re-Ride. Freeman, who has been riding in the event for 10 years, will take a four-mile leg from Harrah’s to Trout Creek.
Freeman and his wife, Terri, are horse enthusiasts who have both ridden the Pony Express route. Both are active in Historic Wagon Train events, and are volunteers with El Dorado County search and rescue.
The original Pony Express route took riders from St. Joseph, Mo., to Carson City, to Genoa, then to Woodfords, through what is now South Lake Tahoe and over Echo Summit. From there, riders went down Johnson Cutoff (now U.S. Highway 50) to Placerville, then on to Sacramento – where the mail was then taken by steamboat to San Francisco.
The re-ride will pass over Kingsbury Grade on Thursday, and the Nevada Association will hand off the mail to the California Association in front of Harrah’s. Festivities are are planned, and there will be an information booth and souvenirs available.
From Harrah’s the ride will cut over to Pioneer Trail, go through Meyers (a new rider mounts up there at 6 p.m.), the intersection of Old Highway 50 (6:30 p.m.), and over Echo Summit. Riders will switch off at Camp Sacramento (7:10 p.m.), Strawberry (7:51 p.m.) and on to Placerville, and then Sacramento.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Judy Harkins, an El Dorado County employee who will be riding one of the legs, through Silverfork. “I’ll be riding at night, so that will be interesting. I’ve done practice runs, and the horse does most of the work.
“But the original riders must have been very brave.”
For his part, Freeman is just happy to be back in the saddle.
“I look forward to this all year,” he said. “I’m personally a romantic with the Old West.”
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