In its 49th year, the Hashknife Pony Express resurrects a relic of the Old West along 200 miles of Arizona’s historic Mogollon Rim.
Long ago young men signed up to run the dangerous routes across the American Southwest to deliver the country’s mail. The Hashknife Pony Express is the last brand to be officially sanctioned by the United States Postal Service.
The tradition began in January, 1958 where pony express riders delivered one message, a proclamation to begin the Parada del Sol in Scottsdale, Arizona. The annual trek now includes numerous riders, sponsors, and activities. At each stop, well-wishers line the streets to support the riders and get a little taste of what life was like in the Old West.
The riders for the event are pulled from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse and their invited guests. A few were part of the inaugural ride in 1958; most have been a part of the tradition for over 10 years. Each rider takes one mile, full speed, before passing their leather bag to the next rider. The 35 riders in all will race ahead by truck to the next spot along the route to wait for their next mile. The over 200 mile ride from the high desert of northeastern Arizona to the Valley of the Sun covers the tumultuous Mogollon Rim in the depths of winter.
One hundred years ago, along with the harsh weather riders would face attacks by Indian tribes, thirst and starvation. The original “Riders Wanted” advertisement asked for tough men who were “willing to risk death daily” and were “preferably orphaned”.
This year’s well-nourished riders will have been officially sworn in as United States letter carriers and be packing mail from across the globe. Every letter will have been hand-stamped and hand-canceled; another tradition that only lives with the Hashknife Pony Express.
Next year will mark the 50th year of the ride and preparations are already underway, including a monument to past riders in the town square of Holbrook, Arizona.
The riders typically carry over 2,000 pieces of first class mail marked with the stamp of “Via the Pony Express”. Official pony express mailers are available for one dollar at post offices along the route. The ride begins on January 31 in Holbrook and concludes February 2 in Scottsdale, to kickoff the Parada del Sol for the 49th year in a row.
To include your letter in this years ride you can mail it to:
Via Pony Express
US Post Office
100 E. Erie Street
Holbrook, AZ 86025.
When your letter reaches Scottsdale, it will complete its adventure with the letter carriers who ride in trucks, not on horses. The riders then hitch their horses in downtown Scottsdale and settle into an old fashioned country dinner.