Cheer on Pony Express reenactors and enjoy family-friendly activities at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (NHTIC). The Trails Center’s Pony Express 150th Celebration will take place June 16, from 3 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.“The legacy of the Pony Express is larger than life,” said Trails Center Director Mike Abel. “We are celebrating the anniversary with a variety of activities, from children’s games and traditional music, to history presentations by guest speakers culminating with the arrival of the riders.”
Inside the NHTIC, a temporary photo exhibit will recount the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Pony Express in 1935.
The following is a schedule of events for the celebration:
|Moving Mail West Before the Pony Express: A ranch in Echo Canyon, on the Weber River, Utah, that served as a Post Office and Pony Express station, as well as an Overland Stage Station in the early 1860s. Photo courtesy of Brigham Young University Special Collections.|
|The Pony Express Diamond Jubilee: Revisiting the Excitement of the 1935 Re-run. At some mail relay locations during the Pony Express Diamond Jubilee re-ride in 1935, the only audience available to provide a send-off to the Boy Scout rider was the official escort party of the re-ride. This image was captured near Austin, Nev. Photo courtesy of the University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center Special Collections.|
|Giving Shape to History: Avard Fairbanks, in his studio with preliminary models of his Pony Express sculpture, circa 1947. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.|
- 3 - 7 p.m., Pony Express, Pioneer, and Frontier Military Re-enactors
Re-enactors will bring Wyoming history to life with stories of the Pony Express, pioneers and frontier military life. Visitors can see and touch a historic, restored military escort wagon from 1866. The wagon was originally used at Fort Fetterman, a remote army fort on the Bozeman Trail. Also, visitors may sit in a replica Wells Fargo Concord stagecoach.
- 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., Pioneer Games
Children have the opportunity to play marbles, graces, ball-in-cups, horseshoes, and other games, no batteries required! There will also be plenty of pioneer clothing on hand for dress up.
- 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., Dutch Oven Cooking Demonstration
A pioneer re-enactor will demonstrate the fine art of cooking tasty dishes in traditional Dutch ovens.
- 3 p.m. presentation: Moving Mail West Before the Pony Express
Between 1789, when the federal government began, and 1860, when the Pony Express started, our nation’s population grew from about four million people to more than 31 million. Its territory extended into the Midwest in 1787 with the Northwest Ordinance, down the Mississippi River, and west to the Rocky Mountains after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The discovery of gold in the 1840s triggered a rush to California.
What helped bind this vast expanse and these many people together? The Post Office Department and the communications it carried – letters from family and friends, and news about politics and markets. Who carried the mail? Contractors who lived on "bad beans and bad bacon poorly cooked.”
Historian Meg Ausman of the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. will address the challenges of moving mail through the Trans-Mississippi West prior to 1860. Ausman has served as the U.S. Postal Service historian since 1991 and has worked for the Postal Service since 1978. She was one of the early members of the Advisory Council to the National Postal Museum of the Smithsonian Institution and has edited multiple editions of The United States Postal Service: An American History.
- 4 p.m. presentation: The Pony Express Diamond Jubilee: Revisiting the Excitement of the 1935 Rerun
During the Great Depression in 1935, the 75th anniversary of the Pony Express captivated public attention with a series of festive events. In the rerun from Sacramento, CA to St. Joseph, MO, Boy Scouts carried mail addressed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The mail was flown from St. Joseph to Washington, D.C. in an Army airplane and presented to President Roosevelt in a ceremony on the White House lawn.
A presentation by guest speaker Camille Bradford includes photographs and film clips from the Howard R. Driggs Archive at Southern Utah University that captures the excitement of the historic rerun. Driggs was President of the Oregon Trail Memorial Association, which sponsored the Diamond Jubilee.
Camille Bradford is an attorney in Denver, Colo. She is the stepdaughter of Howard R. Driggs and founder of the Howard R. Driggs Memorial Foundation. She is a member of the National Pony Express Association (NPEA) and President of the Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association.
- 5 p.m. presentation: Giving Shape to History
Dr. David Fairbanks will share insight into the life's work of his father, Professor Avard Fairbanks. In 2001, Dr. Fairbanks and his brothers donated the sculpture "The Pony Express," created by his father in 1947 for the Utah Centennial Celebration, to the people of the United States for their perpetual enjoyment.
The presentation, held at the base of this magnificent tribute to the Pony Express, will focus on an earlier time, when our nation found universal inspiration and priceless spiritual value in the many sculptures created by Utah's internationally revered artist and educator.
Dr. Fairbanks is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and surgeon in Bethesda, MD. He is a supporter of the NHTIC and has visited Casper for the dedication of the Pony Express sculpture. Dr. Fairbanks is the seventh son of Avard Fairbanks.
- 5:30 p.m. - presentation of the Colors
- 5:45 to 6:30 p.m - Old Time Pioneer Music
Local musicians, Ana, Rachel, and Friends, will provide traditional pioneer music.
- 6:45 p.m. - presentation: The Pony Express Re-ride: Keeping the Legacy Alive
This year is the 31st annual re-ride of the Pony Express Trail. Les Bennington, president of the National Pony Express Association (NPEA), will discuss the significance of the re-ride in maintaining the legacy of the Pony Express.
Bennington will discuss the logistics of this year’s ride, and the important role of the NPEA in helping to raise awareness of the Pony Express. The NPEA was also an important advocate for the establishment of the Pony Express National Historic Trail in 1992.
- 7:15 p.m. - The Pony Express Re-ride
Every year, the NPEA keeps the history of the Pony Express alive by riding the original trail route. The Trails Center serves as a rider and mail relay station.
Prior to the relay, all of the evening’s activities will draw to a close, as participants cheer on the Pony Express reenactors as they arrive, and then depart, the Trails Center.
For more information about the celebration, contact Alex Rose at the NHTIC, (307) 261-7780.
Entrance fees collected at the Trails Center help pay for public programs.
The NHTIC is a part of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The areas of the NLCS are specifically designed to conserve, protect and restore the exceptional scientific, natural, cultural, ecological, historical, and recreation values of these treasured landscapes.
The NHTIC is a public-private partnership between the BLM and the National Historic Trails Center Foundation. The facility is located at 1501 N. Poplar Street, Casper, Wyo. The Center is currently operating on summer hours, and is open daily, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.