Monday, 4 July 2016


Mo was duly shod and delivered ready to go on the morning of April 3rd.    I specifically chose this start date as it was on April 3rd 1860 that the first Pony Express rider set out from St Joseph, 157 years ago.
Here are Patti and Ken about to load up Lady and Mo for the journey to St Joseph, the first time the two horses met.....
 I had decided that it would be too much to tackle the busy bridge across the Missouri with a new horse in tow, so arranged for Ken and Patti to trailer Mo and my baggage ahead to our first stop at Troy in Kansas while I made a start with my old faithful Lady.  So here we are ready for off outside the Pattee House in St Joseph, built in 1858 as a luxury hotel boasting 140 rooms and a ballroom.....
 The offices of the Central Overland California  Pike's Peak Express and the Pony Express were on the first floor, and it was from here that the mail was picked up by the Pony Express after travelling by train from the east.   There has been some confusion as to the identity of the very first rider to leave Pattee House, but it is now commonly believed to be Johnny Fry, who was purportedly a ladies man with a sweet tooth.  There is a story that the doughnut was invented when two sisters who were members of his fan club came up with the idea of the hole to make it easier for him to grab hold of the pastries they offered when he was riding past!
From the Pattee House the rider would gallop down past the stable block to the river, where he would catch the ferry over to the Kansas side.   The ferry is long gone, and the modern alternative was to cross the bridge.  Contrary to its deserted appearance in the photo below it actually carries a constant stream of heavy traffic - this must have been a rare break and probably why I took the opportunity for a photo .......

 I opted to lead Lady across, not only because of the traffic, but also the stiff wind which threatened to blow us away to the Land of Oz as we entered Kansas.   We continued to be buffeted mercilessly for the next fifteen miles on the switchback road to Troy, following the general route of the trail as the sun sank in the west.

 At the time of  the Pony Express the region was largely unsettled open prairie interspersed with woodland. Large numbers of settlers subsequently moved into the west, and potential agricultural or ranching land was divided up, mostly into mile square concession blocks in Kansas and Nebraska.  As a result it is not often possible to follow the exact course of the Pony Express trail since it crosses what is now private land.
Not sure of the significance of the topsy turvy cars on this letterbox, unless they have been blown over by the Kansas wind...
 Arriving at the Pony Express marker at Courthouse Square in Troy, which was the site of a Pony Express relay station (otherwise known as a 'way' or 'swing' station) with stabling for five horses.
Way stations were where riders changed to fresh horses, and were positioned about every 12 miles.

 Lady and Mo settle down for their first night together in the Troy fairground arena, sorted out for me by local farmer Norman Meng, who also gave me access to the 4H building and women's rest room...  
For those who are not familiar with 4H, it is a Youth organisation not dissimilar to Young Farmers in the UK, but with a wider remit.  Among other things they organise county and state fairs for young people, including rodeo games.


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