While most Americans might use the Postal Service, UPS or e-mail to send their holiday greetings this year, hundreds of residents in and around Douglas are going old-school, using Pony Express riders.
Not actual Pony Express riders – the fabled carriers who delivered mail by horseback between Missouri and California in the 1860s – but present-day volunteers from the National Pony Association.
Early in the frigid morning of Dec. 5, nearly a dozen volunteer members of the association, led by Ride Captain Bill Sinnard, gathered outside the Wyoming Department of Transportation on Orin Way to carry the letters by horseback to Orin and Glendo. Another group of riders led by Stephanie Goulart plan to carry letters from Fort Laramie to Guernsey on Dec. 12, from which all the cards will ultimately be postmarked.
It’s part of an ongoing tradition to keep the spirit of the Pony Express alive, which delivered telegrams, newspapers, letters and other messages in 1860 and 1861.
The riders who carried the letters on Dec. 5 hailed from Douglas, Glenrock and the surrounding areas.
“There’s a lot of dedicated people here, who want to be part of the history,” said National Pony Association Wyoming State President Les Bennington, who has been riding for the event since 2010.
Riders transported more than 600 cards this year from Douglas on a range of horse breeds, though many were quarter horses.
The cards were addressed to people all over the country and the world, with at least one going as far as South Africa.
The riders, who ranged in age from 17 to 75, left WyDot around 8 a.m. on Dec. 5 and took Orin Way down to Route 319 to Glendo. At a pace of around 12 miles per hour, they arrived in Orin around 11 a.m., where they were met by Goulart’s group, who helped lead the next leg of the voyage into Glendo, and arrived there around 3 p.m.
The National Pony Association has upwards of 600 members in total, who complete mail delivery rides for various occasions during the year. Another ride is planned for Valentine’s Day, to deliver cards from Guernsey to Hartville.