Pony Express alive and well and riding hard in Platte County
The Pony Express riders consider their trek under the railroad trestle in Guernsey Saturday. They rode hard to Hartville through snow and single digit temperatures to make sure that Valentine’s Day cards would be delivered on time.
PLATTE COUNTY – A lot of kids today have heard of FedEx, but there is a delivery organization that was started in 1860 and still carries mail today. They rode from Guernsey to Hartville Saturday morning in adverse conditions and the ride only took them two hours.
When you think about a FedEx plane that travels across the country in two hours, it may seem like a menial thing, but the horse-mounted riders who carried the mail in the 1800s were not only pioneers risking life and limb, but had such famous riders as Buffalo Bill Cody.
The organization eventually went bankrupt within 18 months, but the legendary riders and logos are still legends today. The Pony Express was also big in Wyoming and part of the original route from Missouri to California carried riders along the Platte River and went through towns such as Fr. Laramie, through what is now Guernsey and down to Green River.
According to Stephanie Goulart, one of the Pony Express riders, this group has been doing this ride for the past 15 years.
“We have 25 riders,” Goulart said before the ride. “I think we’re expecting maybe six riders. We have collection boxes on all the post offices in Goshen and Platte County. The people will deposit their Valentines into those boxes and we collect the boxes and we stamp the letters with the stamp that says, ‘carried horseback.’ And then we gather here and throw mail on everybody and carry it from here to Hartville.”
Goulart said that although their trail is in Goshen County, the Valentine ride only goes from Guernsey to Hartville. The riders do another one for the delivery of Christmas cards that goes from Guernsey to Ft. Laramie.
One of the main riders is Curt Artery who is the retired postmaster from Guernsey. Some of the riders are not postal workers, however, which begs the question, how can they deliver federal mail?
“We can deliver,” said Artery. “As long as we are delivering things that are not in the mail stream directly. When we bring them to Hartville, they will get their special Hartville Valentine stamp on them along with the Pony Express stamp.”
At that point the post office in Hartville will send the Valentines out all over the world including to our men and women in the military half a world away.
“Next Saturday we will actually have a place set up at the Wheatland Country Store,” Artery said. “You can come bring a letter. We’ll stamp it with the stamp of the Pony Express and then we’ll deliver it in the city limits of Wheatland.”
According to Artery, the Pony Express is a national organization and this is the southeast organization for Wyoming. There are five other organizations throughout the state. The second week in June all the Pony Express riders gather in St. Louis and ride the Pony Express trail all the way to San Francisco.
“Ours follows pretty much all the original route,” Artery said. “We will pick it up in Glendo at 4 a.m. and we’ll ride from Glendo to Lyman, Neb., which is about 80 miles.”
Artery said that they will ride with the same speed that Pony Express riders travel at with the exception of going through towns.
“If we get out on the plains or the roads, we go top speed,” he said. “We have riders that have been clocked at 28 mph. We have the Pony Express rides really to preserve the organization. We have the Valentines ride, the Christmas ride, the organizational ride in June and then we deliver letters to the Veterans Affairs Home in Cheyenne. We will deliver letters actually into the facility to those who are disabled and can’t get outside.”
The Pony Express Valentine Delivery in Wheatland will be held Saturday, Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is a $5 donation for cards and letters and a $10 donation for small gift boxes. For more information you can call Stephanie Goulart at (307) 575-7104 or Curt Artery at (307) 331-0919.