Pony Express

The last leg riders between Midway Station at Gothenburg and Brady ride in for the exchange on Wednesday, June 15 during the annual National Pony Express Association Re-Ride.

The Pony Express has fascinated Americans since its first riders carried the mail starting in April 1860. It traveled 1,966 miles between Missouri and California in 10 days or less. Although this innovative mail service only lasted 19 months, it etched a permanent place in the history of the American West.

The Pony Express Trail originated in St. Joseph, Missouri and ended in Sacramento, California delivering mail faster than ever before. In 1992, The United States Congress added the trail to the National Trails System as a Historic Trail, administered by the National Park Service.

The National Pony Express Association (NPEA) was established in 1978 to honor the memory and endeavors of these riders of 1860-1861 and to identify, preserve and mark the original Pony Express route through the eight states it crossed: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. The NPEA strives to keep the spirit of the Pony Express alive with its 800 members world-wide.

Each year those members conduct a Pony Express Re-ride to pay homage to the mail carriers of more than 150 years ago. The 2022 re-ride brought the Pony Express through our area on Wednesday, June 8.

Current State President Lyle Gronewald was present for the Re-ride. “One of my favorite memories was having the horses on the White House Lawn during their 150th Celebration in 2011,” Gronewald reminisced. “The exchange was made on the Senate Lawn behind the Capitol Mall.”

Gronewald also recalled 20 Pony Express riders and horses carrying special letters to the Nebraska State Capitol for their 150th Birthday in 2017.

After stopping for lunch in Cozad, the riders made their way to Midway Station south of Gothenburg for a brief stop and rider exchange before heading to Brady. Troy Grasz took the mochilla at Brady, and explained that involvement in the event has been a family affair for years.

“My dad, Victor, has been riding since the start of the Re-ride. I also have a brother that has been riding since it started, and one of his sons also rides,” Troy explained. “Another of his sons has ridden for years and a cousin, Julie, is riding for us. It’s just been a family thing that we have done since the 1980s.”

Troy said his brother from North Dakota and his brother’s daughters usually make the trip to Nebraska for the Re-ride, but due to a graduation they were unable to attend this year.

The Re-ride departed from St. Joseph, Missouri on June 6 and is scheduled to arrive in Sacramento, California this afternoon, June 16.