One of the grand traditions of the West returns to Payson when the Hashknife Pony Express gallops into town Wednesday, Jan. 28.
The 37 riders of the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse will be at the Payson post office at about 4:45 p.m. to sign autographs and pass out commemorative bandannas, according to Assistant Trail Boss Chuck Jackman.
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, Calif. and St. Joseph, Mo.
"We do it to preserve the tradition of the Hashknife Pony Express, but also to let people remember the old ways of the Pony Express," Jackman said. "It began way back on April 6, 1860. It only lasted for 18 months, so we're keeping an old tradition alive. It's part of western history."
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.
"For the original Pony Express, they wanted orphans that were wiry and skinny," Jackman said. "That way if they got killed on the trail, nobody would miss them. They ranged in age from 11 to 18."
The riders leave Holbrook at 8 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28. They'll stage at Corral West Ranchwear in the Payson Village Shopping Center around 4:30 p.m. for the police-escorted ride to the Payson post office. A dinner will be held at 7 p.m. at the Mazatzal Casino, followed by a dance at the Ox Bow Saloon.
Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the casino gift shop, Ox Bow Saloon, or the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce office.
For more information, call Jackman at (928) 970-0595 or Jack Lundeen at (928) 468-1101.
Hashknife Pony Express Events
Friday, Jan. 23
5:30 - 7 p.m. -- Chamber of Commerce Mixer at Ox Bow Saloon
7 - 10 p.m. -- Meet the Riders at Ox Bow Saloon
Wednesday, Jan. 28
8 a.m. -- Riders depart Holbrook post office
4:45 p.m. -- Riders arrive Payson post office
6 p.m. -- Mazatzal Casino no-host cocktails
7 p.m. -- Mazatzal Casino banquet
9 p.m. -- Ox Bow Saloon dance
Thursday, Jan. 29
10 a.m. -- Riders depart Payson post office
Noon -- Riders arrive Osborn post office
Saturday, Jan. 31
10 a.m. -- Parada del Sol Parade in Scottsdale
Saturday, Feb. 21
5 p.m. -- Hashknife appreciation party, Creekside Restaurant (call 928-478-4550 for more information)