Planning public programs for the Postal Museum is probably one of the most interesting jobs on the planet. As the program coordinator, I get to explore fascinating stories related to postal history and philately and then share them with real people who show up at the museum or tune in online.
As I planned the museum's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express this year, I have been lucky enough to come across fascinating people who have shared pieces of this incredible history with me--and museum visitors. Camille Bradford spoke at the museum about the 1935 celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Pony Express. Speakers from the National Pony Express Association, Inc. discussed how they honor the Pony Express today and, best of all, showed up in cowboy hats! I also got to be part of an fabulous festival planned by intern Emily Shapero to celebrate the 150th anniversary. The day included adorable kids, twisted tales, and fun activities.
Most recently, through the faster-than-the-Pony-Express magic of Twitter, I found the folks of the ALT
Project. This group of "adventure motorcyclists" explores America's natural landscapes and diverse cultures and makes movies about it. In their film "7 Days, 17 Hours," they ride the route of the Pony Express, trying to beat its speed record with modern GPS equipment and vehicles. This may sound like a cinch but, watch the film below or view it here and you'll realize it's not.
The folks from the ALT Project were attempting to beat the speed record because of the essential need to know: can we do it and, if we do, will it make a good movie? But back in 1860, riders were speeding important news to the west: the results of the 1860 election. Before the election, the Pony Express hired extra men and ensured that fresh relay horses were available along the entire route. On November 7, 1860, a rider dashed out of Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory (the eastern end of the telegraph line) with the election results. Riders sped along the route, over snow-covered trails and into Fort Churchill, Nevada Territory (the western end of the telegraph line). California’s newspapers received word of Lincoln’s election only seven days and 17 hours after the East Coast papers, an unrivaled feat at the time.