Sunday, August 09, 2015

On the XP: Local Families Take A Historic Ride Across the West - Full Article


The Pony Express occupies a relatively small window in American history, but an outsized place in Wild West mythology. The mail service, in which riders carried messages via horseback for 1,800 miles from St. Jackson, Missouri to Sacramento was only in existence for 19 months — from April 3, 1860 to October 1861 — before being usurped by the modern marvel of the telegraph. It is credited with linking the then brand new state of California with the rest of the country. A good rider could gallop the distance in just 10 days, changing horses every 15 miles.

Today the trail is part of the National Park Service's trail system, and endurance riders take it at a slower pace. Four teams from Humboldt County recently completed the trail over the course of eight weeks, averaging about 50 miles a day. The XP, as it's known colloquially after the brand that once marked the flanks of Pony Express horses, still exerts a pull on the hearts of many.

Katie Azevedo, of Arcata, shared a horse with her mom Linda for the ride. While some equestrians compete for time, Katie said that she was more motivated by the opportunity to bond with Linda and get a unique perspective into the region's history...

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