Pony Express Gallops To New Record


The Hashknife Pony Express riders shattered their old record set just last year by 11 minutes.

"We did the ride in 13 hours and 17 minutes," assistant trail boss Chuck Jackman said. "We were seven minutes quicker getting from Holbrook to Payson, two minutes quicker getting from Payson to the Verde, and two minutes quicker going from the Verde to the Scottsdale post office."


Chuck Jackman (center) of Payson received the Top Hand saddle for the 2004 Hashknife Posse Pony Express Ride last week in Holbrook. Presenting the saddle are Hashknife Posse Captain Mark Reynolds (left) and Trail Boss Dave Alford.

The 46th annual ride also was one of the safest ever.

"There were no accidents at all -- period," Jackman said. "It was probably the safest ride all the way around."

The fastest handoff award went to Jason and Nathan Perkins, while Gail and Jackson Perkins were named best riding team. Gail Perkins, incidentally, rode in the first 10 Hashknife events.

Sgt. Tom Hill of the Scottsdale Mounted Police took top honors for fastest ride, while Tony Gardella, Raymond Reel and Tim Zarimba were named best support team.

Jackman was presented with a new Billy Cook saddle for being named top hand.

The 37 Hashknife riders also won the judge's choice award in the Parada del Sol Parade.

The turnout for the riders in Payson was outstanding, Jackman said.

"It gets better and better," he said. "The post office was real happy. The casino was real happy. The Ox Bow was real happy."

Jackman also was pleased with the crowd in Christopher Creek. "It was the first time we picked up mail at a post office in Christopher Creek and we had a pretty good turnout," he said.

The ride, which begins in Holbrook and concludes 200 miles later in Scottsdale to mark the opening of Parada del Sol, is a re-creation of the famous Pony Express that ran between Sacramento and St. Joseph, Mo. The original Pony Express used 90 riders and 500 horses. There were 119 relay stations along the way, with each rider covering 50 to 100 miles a day.

Working in teams of two, the riders relay the mail by handing off the canvas and leather bags from one rider to the next.

The hashknife was a tool originally used by chuckwagon cooks to cut meat for hash. The Hashknife brand originated in Texas as the identification for the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, which moved to Holbrook in 1886.

Later, in 1957, the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse retained limited use of the brand, which now identifies the Pony Express, many of whose members are in the posse.

While the actual Pony Express lasted little more than a year, the Hashknife re-enactment is approaching the half century mark. It is one of the longest running Pony Express rides in the nation.

Every year the riders are officially sanctioned by the U.S. Postal Service to re-enact the ride.

"We ended up carrying over 20,000 pieces of mail this year," Jackman said.

For those who want to know more about the Hashknife Pony Express tradition, Jackman said there are two museums full of Hashknife artifacts.

"One is in Winslow on Standing on a Corner Street and one is in Holbrook at the Chamber of Commerce," he said.

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