I sure did…probably obsessed on riding the Pony Express, too, when I was a little girl riding out in the hills around La Honda, California.
Maybe that’s why my first novel, A Long Trail Rolling, ended up being about the Pony Express…and a girl rider.
Many have asked why I wrote about this for my first novel. For those of you who don’t know my history, suffice it to say I grew up on Highway 84 in La Honda, California, where the Younger Brothers used to hang out after big heists, the Stage ran through, and the Peek-a Boo Inn (yes, it is what it sounds like…), the eleven bars and three churches and one store were the standard, back in the day.
I went away to university and finally finished veterinary school. I had to be a hoss-doc, didn’t I? I moved on to Placerville, of Gold Country fame, on the Pony Express Trail. You might say I was rather steeped in the Old West.
Things led to things and I found myself in New Zealand, where I’ve lived for the past 22 years. I’ve now finished my third historical fiction (with romantic elements, of course) and my first contemporary vet girl story, Once Upon a Vet School #7: Lena Takes a Foal.
Back to History and the Pony Express!
I discovered some pretty cool things can happen when you’re researching a story.
Thanks to Pony Express History –
The Pony Express Re-Ride runs every year, all the way from St. Jo, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. Patrick Hearty, past president of the National Pony Express Association (NPEA), wrote the Foreword of A Long Trail Rolling for me. He and his wife, Linda, hosted my son Elliot and I a few years ago, and again last year, when they invited me to ride in the re-ride and lent me their horses for the famed ride. It was awe-inspiring to ride over the same trail as all those young men, so many years ago. It is strange to realize that the portion I rode over is less populated than it was back in the day!
The Pony Express Re-Ride continues!
This rider is putting the “mochila,” (the leather pad with the mail pockets, below) over his horse’s saddle. It’s transferred from horse to horse all the way from St. Joseph to Old Sacramento for the western run, and another one is transferred at the same time, in the reverse direction…all the way from Old Sac to St. Joseph for the eastward run. Members of the NPEA and others may insert a commemorative letter at one end and have them delivered to the other.
Credit to Ryan Long, Deseret News
Patrick has put a commemorative letter in for me every year since we met and I cherish the growing stack of letters, knowing how many miles those letters have gone, carried by horse after horse in their locked “cantinas”, over 2000 miles of hot summer sweat and dust, prairies, rivers, and the Sierra Nevada Ranges.
Map of the Pony Express Route
Thanks to Union Pacific and http://bit.ly/11K21Oh
To join the NPEA or follow the mochilas on their yearly trip, you can visit the XPHome Site
Thanks to Tom Crews!
This is Patee House, the eastward terminus of the Pony Express, or “Pony”, as it was called.
Thanks to Kathy Weiser, owner/editor, Legends of America
Patrick Hearty and Dr. Joseph Hatch of Utah speaking on the Pony Express
Photo above: Patrick and Joseph’s book. Photo to right: Joseph L. Hatch, left, and Patrick Hearty talk about the history of the Pony Express. (Thanks to Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
Traveler’s Rest Pony Express Station, Near Salt Lake City, Utah
Here is the Traveler’s Rest (or Absalom Smith) Station, with the front torn down, but the pic shows the first part built. Thanks to the University of Utah
Simpson’s Springs (Somewhere out in the Utah Salt Desert!).
Painting of Simpson’s Springs Station
Lookout Pass, Where my Heroine, Aleksandra, Finds a “Bit of Strife”
Thanks to Roger Douglass
It’s in Lookout Pass that Aleksandra, my heroine, is ambushed by Paiute Indians and… (but that would be telling!)…. you’ll just have to read the book!
INDIAN ARROWE AND ECHO STATION PE STATION KEEPERS
“Mose Wright described the Indian arrow-poison. The rattlesnake – the copperhead and the moccasin he ignored – is caught with a forked stick planted over its neck, and is allowed to fix its fangs in an antelope’s liver. The meat, which turns green, is carried upon a skewer when wanted for use: the flint head of an arrow, made purposely to break in the wound, is thrust into the poison, and when withdrawn is covered with a thin coat of glue. Ammonia is considered a cure for it and the Indians treat snake bites with the actual cautery. . .”
Yep, it gets messy, but then, it often did.
The “Pony”, as the Pony Express was called, only actually ran for 18 months or so, a bit less because Indian attacks caused it to shut down for about a month and a half… (Why, you say? Well, when all the stations for over 50 miles are burned down, stock stolen and station tenders killed, it’s pretty hard to maintain a route!)
The opening of the new trans-continental telegraph line sounded the death knell of the “Pony”, but it had served its purpose in keeping California in the Union, preventing its secession to the South! This is actually the main storyline of Book 2 in the series, The Hills of Gold Unchanging.
That’s my bit of history for today, I hope you enjoyed hearing about the “Pony”.
Back to Today!
If you haven’t read it yet, go for it, there are nine heartwarming stories from your favorite, and new favorite, we hope, authors, all for only 99c!
If you love the stories, we’d sure appreciate your reviews on Amazon!
Take good care.
XX from NZ,
Lizzi and the rest at Authors of Main Street