Re-Enacting The Pony Express Experience This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express. Michele Norris talks to Jay Jensen, who is among a group of horse riders who are re-enacting the Pony Express experience, and riding from Sacramento, Calif., to St. Joseph, Mo.
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Re-Enacting The Pony Express Experience

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Re-Enacting The Pony Express Experience

Re-Enacting The Pony Express Experience

Re-Enacting The Pony Express Experience

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This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express. Michele Norris talks to Jay Jensen, who is among a group of horse riders who are re-enacting the Pony Express experience, and riding from Sacramento, Calif., to St. Joseph, Mo.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Before texting, email, FedEx or fax machines, there was the Pony Express.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "BONANZA")

U: (as character) All the way from St. Jo in eight days.

U: (as character) You know, that's less than half the time they've ever done it in before. That's hard to believe.

U: I believe it's a miracle. I tell you, this Pony Express is going to be the biggest thing that ever happened to the West. What an idea.

NORRIS: This year, one of those riders is Jay Jensen, and we caught up with him in central Wyoming. He joins us now. Welcome, Mr. Jensen.

NORRIS: Hello.

NORRIS: Now, tell us, where exactly are you?

NORRIS: We're up by Jeffrey City, going east, towards Casper, Wyoming.

NORRIS: And you're riding not alone but with a group. Can you tell us how the ride has been so far?

NORRIS: Well, they were coming over South Pass last night, and the road was washed out. So some of them had to ride almost 40 miles. So that put us a little bit behind schedule.

NORRIS: So it's been a rough ride?

NORRIS: Yes.

NORRIS: Now, you're outfitted, you're dressed like an original rider would be if you were on the original Pony Express. Is that correct?

NORRIS: Yes.

NORRIS: So tell me, what is it that you're wearing?

NORRIS: A red shirt, a brown vest, Western hat and a yellow scarf.

NORRIS: The yellow bandanna, the yellow scarf, is very important.

NORRIS: Yes.

NORRIS: And are you carrying a satchel?

NORRIS: Yes.

NORRIS: Mail for delivery, or what have you got in there?

NORRIS: U.S. mail.

NORRIS: Who's that?

NORRIS: This is Les Bennington. I'm president of the association. We're here with Jay. We're in the same room.

NORRIS: OK. Hello, Les, how are you?

NORRIS: Good, how are you doing?

NORRIS: I'm fine. Are you riding, too?

NORRIS: Yup.

NORRIS: How much do you know about the original riders? What was their life like?

NORRIS: They would wait there, you know, days until the mail come back, and then they'd have to retrace their steps. So their life was between the home stations, going through a series of relay stations just to get a fresh horse.

NORRIS: What do you get out of this, you know, other than having a chance to ride and enjoy the wide, open spaces? What does this mean to you?

NORRIS: Well, what it does, it makes you really feel good. And when you're out there riding, out across the prairies, that you just get to thinking about the way they used to do it back in the 1860s. And it just makes you really feel great when you're doing it.

NORRIS: Is this how you spend all your vacations?

NORRIS: Yes.

NORRIS: What do you do when you're not riding the Pony Express?

NORRIS: I drive a tractor-trailer for United Parcel Service, UPS.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: Now, there, of course, is great irony in that.

NORRIS: He's still delivering stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: What do the folks at UPS think about this pastime?

NORRIS: They think it's pretty neat.

NORRIS: I bet they do. Well, Jay Jensen, a tip of the hat to you. This sounds like a wonderful adventure. Thanks so much for talking to us. Also thanks to Les Bennington, and good luck to you on the next leg of that ride.

NORRIS: OK.

NORRIS: OK, bye.

NORRIS: Jay Jensen and Les Bennington are part of a group that's retracing the steps of the Pony Express on its 150th anniversary.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

U: (Singing) Can't you see that sun goin' down and still got 20 miles to town? And none of your foolishness, you're riding for the Pony Express. Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up. Gotta get the mail through. Pony Express. Gotta get the mail through. No time for rest. Now listen what I tell you. Gotta get the mail through. Pony Express. I want to be proud of you. Gotta get the mail through. We're riding west.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED continues right after this.

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