The Pony Express: A Romantic Failure Itinerary
Sunday, July 8, 2018
8:00 PM: Check in at our headquarters hotel in Kansas City. Neil and Len will meet you in the lobby and distribute readings and other information about the program. Kansas City is famous for steaks and BBQ; we will break the ice with a BBQ dinner before calling it a night. Hotel and dinner included.
Monday, July 9, 2018
8:00 AM. We will bus to the starting point in St. Joseph, Missouri—the eastern terminus of the Pony Express. Here we will tour the Pony Express Museum, which includes the original stables. Close by is the Patee House, the headquarters of the Pony Express. As a bonus, we will also see the home where Jesse James was murdered. We end the day in Marysville at the Pony Express Station. Hotel, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.
Tuesday, July 8, 2018
8:15 AM. We follow along the track of the Pony Express. It is familiar to many travelers as it follows the route of the western trails, the major difference being that instead of wagons the route is being covered by sprinting horses carrying a mail pouch and driven by an aggressive and focused young man racing to a waypoint where he will change mounts and carry on. We have three significant sites today: Rock Creek Station, where a Pony Express employee, James Butler Hickok, known to history as “Wild Bill” Hickok, shot and killed three men; Fort Kearny; and the site of the Plum Creek Massacre. We overnight in North Platte, Nebraska. Breakfast, lunch, and hotel are included.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Keeping in mind the nation was embroiled in a destructive Civil War, our stops today cover a number of small engagements between the Native Americans and remaining US soldiers. This was, after all, the American frontier, and antebellum military service almost certainly included postings in the west. We will see several sites including some in Julesburg, Colorado, and Fort Rankin. Indeed, it should not escape your notice that the entire route to date is chocked full of these sites. Today you will also notice that we have transitioned from the farming country of the Great Plains to the wide-open spaces of the Nebraska panhandle. We will see navigational landmarks such as Chimney Rock, Jailhouse Rock, and Courthouse Rock. Our featured stop today is Fort Laramie. We conclude the day passing Register Cliff and the rutted sandstone of the Oregon Trail as we move to Guernsey, where we overnight. Breakfast, lunch, and your hotel are provided.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
The changing landscape will become very pronounced today as we move to Lander, Wyoming, for our overnight stop. Our first encounter today is the National Interpretive Trails Museum in Casper. We will then head to Fort Casper and cross the North Platte River as we ascend toward South Pass, a significant milestone in the trails west. Breakfast, lunch, and lodging are included.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Today we pass through the mountains at South Pass. These awe-inspiring geological formations must have fomented fear in those pioneers traveling west, and yet they were unavoidable. Without the breaks in the mountains, such as at South Pass, one imagines that the spirit of the traveler would have been broken. As we move through South Pass, we will split from the Oregon Trail and pick up the California Trail; of course we should, because the Pony Express terminus was Sacramento. We will spend time at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, and then enter Utah, passing through Echo Canyon before overnighting in Salt Lake City. Breakfast, lunch, and the hotel are included.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
We have spent much time in the remote west, and the Great Salt Lake and Mormon migration is too attractive to ignore. We will make stops at both the Pony Express monument and famous Temple Square. We will then head south to Camp Floyd and Faust’s Station. The afternoon will break your heart for both the pioneers and the riders on the Pony Express trail. The great natural beauty of the salt flats along the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake is both enchanting and at the same time daunting—so far and to face this? We will overnight in Ely, Nevada. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the hotel are included.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
The pristine Nevada Great Basin defies description, and the area has changed little since Pony Express days. The region is devoid of ranches and towns, yet stone ruins bear silent testimony that man was here—they are relay stations where horses were changed out and a brief bite of food or a splash of water was greatly appreciated. We will visit several of these sites where riders faced brutal heat and bone-chilling cold in a waterless, barren region. We will overnight in Fallon, Nevada. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included along with the room.
Monday, July 16, 2018
Our final day begins with vestiges of Old Fort Churchill. Troopers from the fort were engaged in the Paiute War. This nasty dispute temporarily closed the Pony Express in May and June of 1860. Then it is onward through Lake Tahoe—one of nature’s great gifts to travelers. Can you imagine the relief a rider must have felt to see this site of natural beauty? We will cross the Sierra Nevada mountains and head directly for the western terminus of the Pony Express in Sacramento. Here we will take a group photo at a magnificent Pony Express monument. As time permits, we will also tour the Wells Fargo History Museum before pushing on to our hotel at the San Francisco airport.
We have been on the road on a comfortable motor coach with comfortable beds each night. We have been gone for about the same length of time as a single run of the express route by horseback. Are you not in awe given all you have seen?
Breakfast, lunch, and the hotel are included.
Some of you may opt to catch a red-eye flight home tonight. If you do, we will adjust your registration fee accordingly (please let us know by June 15); after that date, you own the room.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Depart at your leisure. Thank you for coming.