Pony Express riders carry letters from Lecompton to Topeka in commemorative event

At this age, it’s OK to celebrate your milestones together.

Kansas is 150 this year, and the Pony Express ended 150 years ago following a brief but legendary existence.

The anniversaries of the two were commemorated Monday in a re-ride of the Pony Express from Lecompton to the steps of the Capitol.

“We need to remember what has gone before us,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after he received commemorative letters from Gov. Sam Brownback and four former governors.

The letters were delivered by riders of the Kansas division of the National Pony Express Association, which re-creates the Pony Express experience in re-rides.

The Pony Express was a private mail service in which horseback riders would relay mail between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif. It started on April 3, 1860, and lasted for 18 months, until connection of the transcontinental telegraph.

The nearly 2,000-mile journey covering eight states took about 10 days, according to the National Pony Express Association. Riders were paid $25 per week and rode 10 to 12 miles before changing horses. A different rider started about every 75 miles.

In his letter, Brownback, who was traveling in Russia on Monday on a trip to market Kansas farm products, said, “It is nearly impossible to think of those daring young riders braving the dangerous journey to aid in the growth and expansion of a grateful nation without thinking of the rolling plains and rustic beauty of Kansas. The two are tangled in our lore and our vision of the past, dependent on one another and forever intertwined.”

Monday’s ride started about 9 a.m. in Lecompton, Kansas’ territorial capital. Thirteen Kansas riders and 3 1/2 hours later, the mail was delivered to the Capitol.

By Scott Rothschild

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