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History Mystery
Learning Landscapes>Kids>The History Mystery >The Mystery of the Pony Express>Pony Bob
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Famed Pony Express Rider
Robert H. Haslam
“Pony Bob” 1840-1912

When Pony Bob Haslam was buried in Chicago,  fifty-two years had passed since the Pony Express first ran.   He was 1700 miles away from his home station. For the last six years of his life he had toiled as a clerk at the Hotel Auditorium. Still, when he died, the newspapers of the day printed glowing tributes.   “‘Pony Bob’ Haslam, Who Knew No Fear, Dies in Chicago.” “a man once famous throughout the United States for his courage, endurance and skill.” Buffalo Bill even paid for the headstone on his grave.

Why was Pony Bob so well known and respected a half century after the Pony Express quit running? He was never the subject of books or plays. He never sought attention. All Pony Bob did was ride. 

There are many wild stories about the Pony Express and its riders. Several revolve around Pony Bob Haslam. By all accounts the stories about Pony Bob seem to be true. Among other things, most historians agree that Pony Bob was the rider on the longest ride during the short but colorful history of the Pony Express. (See Sidebar)

In 1860 Bob was twenty years old. He had arrived in Salt Lake City from London four years earlier. He worked on a ranch and as a government messenger. He was at home on a horse. He was loyal, brave, and committed to getting the job done. Pony Bob fit the model for what a Pony Express rider should be. 

Unfortunately, as the telegraph continued its expansion across the continent Pony Bob was pushed further to the edges . When the Express faded from the scene Pony Bob kept riding. He worked for Wells Fargo as an express rider between Lake Tahoe and Virginia City, Nevada.   When the telegraph reached Virginia City Wells Fargo sent him to Idaho to ride an express route. Finally, he moved freight between Salt Lake City and Denver. Pony Bob was still riding in his fifties and still looking for the next adventure. He scouted for the army and served in Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. 

By the end of his life few people remembered the days when the pony and rider ruled the West but they remembered the famed Pony Express Rider, Pony Bob.

History Mystery Identifier

 

Photo Courtesy of The St. Joseph Museums, Inc., St. Joseph, Missouri

(Left to right, top to bottom)
R.H. "Pony Bob" Hasalm, Prentiss Ingraham, J.B. Colton, Alexander Majors, W.F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody

The Longest Ride

In 1907 Pony Bob described his experience on “the longest ride” to author William   Lightfoot Visscher: “I had already ridden seventy-five miles [from Friday's Station, near Lake Tahoe]; but to my great astonishment, the other rider refused to go on. The superintendent, W.C. Marley, was at the station, but all his persuasion could not prevail on the rider, Johnson Richardson, to take the road. Turning then to me, Marley said: “‘Bob, I will give you $50 if you will make this ride.’ I replied, ‘I will go at once.’ Within ten minutes, when I had adjusted my Spencer rifle, which was a seven-shooter and my Colt’s revolver, with two cylinders ready for use in case of emergency, I started…I pushed on to Sand Springs, through an alkali bottom and sand hills, thirty miles farther, without a drop of water all along the route.”