Next week, a bit of the Old West will ride through Payson. A team of 26 sworn mail carriers -- members of the Hashknife Pony Express -- will mount up in Holbrook Jan. 26 and carry the official U.S. mail to Payson.
Members of the group, which will be making its 42nd trip this year, will ride in one-mile shifts as fast as they can go for the 100 miles it will take to get to Payson, Hashknife rider Matt McRae of Strawberry said.
At each mile, the riders will hand off the mail relay style.
In the afternoon, three or four members of the team will break off and travel to Pine, arriving at about 2:30 p.m. to pick up the mail there.
The team of riders will reunite at the old IGA parking lot in Payson before riding to the post office at the corner of Highway 87 and Frontier Street to meet the public. The riders are expected to arrive at 4:45 p.m. and will be handing out 2,000 ride buttons and bandannas.
The first ride
The Hashknife Pony Express was started in 1957 by the Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff's Posse after the group rode from Holbrook to Phoenix to deliver a letter to Arizona Governor Paul Fannin. The group has been dedicated to keeping the traditions of the Old West alive ever since.
The group has an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail to Holbrook, Heber, Overgaard, Payson, Pine and Scottsdale, which it does every January.
Brush off the trail dust
Wednesday evening, the Rim Country Museum will sponsor a benefit dinner to celebrate the Hashknife ride. The riders will join diners at 7 p.m. for a dinner and dance at the Mazatzal Casino. Tickets are $21.50, and dinner includes prime rib or barbecued chicken and all the fixin's. Music will be provided by Everclear and Hashknife posters will be on sale for $10.
The riders will hit the trail again Thursday to ride another 100 miles or so to Scottsdale. They will camp overnight near the Verde River before reaching Scottsdale Friday, Jan. 28.
On Saturday morning, the rested riders will kick off the annual Parada del Sol Parade on Scottsdale Road.