Pony Express riders re-enact deliveries: Riders change horses at Luther Pass and Picketts Junction | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Pony Express riders re-enact deliveries: Riders change horses at Luther Pass and Picketts Junction

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Lee Hofer re-rides the Pony Express Trail through Hope Valley to transfer the mochila, a saddlebag designed to carry mail, at Picketts Junction on Wednesday morning.

A mochila containing about 1,000 commemorative letters of the Pony Express re-ride will have changed hands more than 500 times when riders complete the 28th annual event from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Mo.

The ride began Tuesday in Sacramento and will travel 1,966 miles to St. Joseph. Riders travel 24 hours a day through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, ending the run on June 16. On Wednesday morning, riders came close to Lake Tahoe, going up and arriving at Luther Pass at 8:35 a.m., 9 a.m. at Picketts Junction and 9:50 a.m. arriving at Woodfords. From there the Pony Express crossed into Nevada, continuing through Genoa, Carson City, traveling across the state eastwards toward Utah.

Riding into downtown Carson City from Fuji Park was Bob Moore, 82, on his mount “Whiskey.” Moore stopped at Third and South Curry streets to hand the mochila over to Mona Dible.

“It was a great ride,” said Moore, dressed in jeans, chaps, boots with spurs, red shirt, yellow bandana and cowboy hat.

“It gets more fun every year.”

Riding “shotgun” to the riders are members of the Sierra International Emergency Radio Association. They ride in vehicles near the horse and rider keeping tabs on their location and updating the re-ride hotline.

“Nevada’s such a rugged state, we like to help out,” said Mel Hogan of SIERA. “It takes a lot of dedicated people to make this happen.”

Carson City resident Linda May works on South Curry Street, but has never seen the re-ride.

“All the years I’ve been working here, I’ve missed it,” May said. “But not today. This ride has to keep going. It’s absolutely important to keep history going.”

Marilyn Koschella, May’s co-worker, stood on the sidewalk waiting for the rider.

“I’ve seen this several times,” Koschella said. “It’s very exciting.”

The mail was delivered via Pony Express from April 1860 to November 1981 by the Central Overland and California Pikes Peak Express Co., covering the distance in 10 days. The re-ride route alternates direction each year.

The re-ride is the longest-distance annual ride in the United States, surpassing the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska.

Three generations of Ryans participate in the Nevada Division of the Pony Express. Dale Ryan, 68, has been riding since 1981; His son Mike Ryan, 46, has been riding since 1986; and Mike’s son Nick, 21, is in his sixth or seventh year.

“It’s all about the history and the horses,” Nick Ryan said. “And I like horses. I watch people’s reactions when they see us. They’re in awe of what’s going on.”

“This ride has taken me a lot of different places,” Mike Ryan said. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

“I do this for the horses and the people – to keep up the history of the Pony Express,” Dale Ryan added. “I’m more involved now with the history of it. It’s a volunteer-type thing.”

To follow the progress of the riders, visit http://www.xphomestation.com.

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