On Thursday October 15th Patti and Kenny from Greenacres Riding Centre came to fetch Lady and take her back to Jamesport where she is spending the winter in a large sheltered field with equine buddies. Then it was a round trip to Chicago by hire car to move all my excess baggage to store in Patti's garage at Jamesport, passing through Hannibal, Mark Twain's boyhood home town en route.
Thus an obligatory selfie with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn..
Fortified by breakfast and encouragement, I spent the rest of the day looking round the Pony Express museum in the former Pony Express stable block, and the huge Pattee House museum just up the road, a former luxury hotel which housed the Pony Express office.
The Pony Express was founded by William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell in 1860. Surprisingly in view of its iconic place in the history of the Opening up of the West, it only lasted for eighteen months, overtaken by the construction of a telegraph line to California by autumn 1861.
St Joseph was chosen as the eastern end of the trail since at the time it was also the westernmost terminal of the railway. Mail bound for San Francisco arrived by train, was delivered to the Pony Express office in Pattee House and was then carried by Pony Express for 2000 miles across prairies, mountain ranges and deserts to Sacramento, passing through Salt Lake City en route. Each rider covered about hundred miles between 'home stations', changing horses at smaller 'swing' stations positioned every 12-15 miles or so. The whole ride took about ten days, amazing when you consider it will conservatively take me around four or five months! Apart from riding all day and night through baking summer heat and biting winter cold, not to mention tackling rivers in flood, and deep snow in the mountains, the riders occasionally had to escape attacks by Paiute Indians.
A life size tableau of a pony express rider about to leave the stables....
..a bit too spookily realistic for me - don't think I will be emulating Ben Stiller's 'Night at the Museum'.
From here the rider would pick up the mail from the Pony Express office in Patee House and gallop down to board the ferry across the Missouri river.An exact replica of the mochila which was used to carry the mail....
At each station the mochila was rapidly removed from the exhausted horse and flung over the saddle of the fresh horse before the rider jumped on and galloped on his way.
Many thanks to the public spirited Debbie for putting me up or rather putting up with me overnight, particularly as she was in right in the middle of moving house. What teenage fun to have a sleepover with Debbie, me and the dogs all piled on a mattress on the floor in the empty living room!
And all the best in your lovely new home!