Riders on horseback now crossing the Great Plains to mark the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express probably would have been fired — for making the slowest run ever.
The nearly 2,000-mile trip between California and St. Joseph, Mo., used to take 10 to 12 days. This one is taking 21 days. But that's only because the riders are stopping for more than two dozen celebrations along the way before the whole thing ends Saturday with a procession through downtown St. Joseph.
Hope there's not a late mortgage payment in those mailbags.
When it began in 1860 the Pony Express was the fastest way to get a letter or newspaper to California, part of the United States but separated from the East by vast wilderness. Tough young men rode horses like the wind, relaying the mail from station to station and then all the way back again.
The alternatives were a southern stagecoach route that took twice as long or a sea journey that took more than a month.
Today's commemorative Pony Express "re-ride" is being tracked by satellite and the exact position of the mail can be followed continuously on the Internet. Many of the hundreds of men and women riding along for a few miles at a time are posting digital photographs and accounts of their experience.
The overlay of modern technology on a 19th century marvel is wonderful for Tom Crews, who maintains a website that serves as Pony Express central.
"I can sit in my office here in Concord, Calif., and follow it across the country," he said.
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