Pony Express re-enactment ends at St. Joseph museum

Sunday, June 23, 2002

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The 142nd anniversary of the Pony Express was celebrated with the delivery of 45 pounds of mail from California.

Emily King, 14, a third-generation rider, completed the last leg of the trip Friday on her horse, Image, as a crowd outside St. Joseph's Patee House Museum clapped.

"I was very glad," she said. "I've had three different generations carry it, and it's my turn now."

The journey started June 11 in California and covered more than 1,966 miles through eight states.

A mother-daughter team of the Missouri chapter of the National Pony Express Association also took part.

Priscilla Foster, of Columbia, and her mother, Norma Foster, of Dearborn, Mo., have been in the ride reenactments for the last 12 years.

Norma Foster said it's important to keep the tradition going. "If we didn't do it, I don't know who would," she said. "Without a knowledge of the past, the present doesn't have a lot of direction."

Priscilla Foster said she enjoys being a part of keeping the Pony Express alive. "It's the best when you're coming up the hill" to the museum, she said. "That's the exciting part. It's especially good when you have a crowd here waiting for you."

JoEllen Mathews, of St. Joseph, saw the Pony Express riders for the first time Friday, along with her cousins who were visiting from Texas and Oklahoma.

"I think it's neat," she said. "All I can think of is how saddle-sore I'd be."

For two decades, members of the National Pony Express Association have been re-creating the form of mail delivery that was in service only from April 1860 to November 1861.

The Pony Express was established to improve communication with the new western frontier and preserve the Union. It ended with the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line.

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