In honor of Nevada’s storied history with the Pony Express, riders carried a special delivery to Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki on the Capitol steps Friday afternoon.
Commissioners in White Pine, Eureka, Lander, and Churchill counties issued proclamations in recognition of the state’s sesquicentennial celebration. Those proclamations were picked up in each of the counties — selected because they were on the original route of the Pony Express through Nevada — and delivered horseback to Carson City.
“I gratefully accept these proclamations,” Krolicki said.
Among the organizers Friday was Steven Haslam Nielsen, who says he descends from Pony Bob Haslam, perhaps the most famous Pony Express rider.
Nielsen grew up listening to stories of his great, great, great uncle and when he moved to Topaz Ranch Estates from Salt Lake City, became a member of Nevada’s Association of Pony Express Riders.
Pony Bob, was assigned the run from Friday’s Station near Stateline at Tahoe to Buckland Station near Fort Churchill. He set the record for both the longest ride and the fastest one.
“He’s an amazing figure,” said Bob Nylen, curator of history for the Nevada State Museum.
Nylen told me about Pony Bob’s fastest ride — 120 miles in eight hours and 20 minutes carrying Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Address.
What’s more remarkable is he broke that speed record while being attacked and injured twice by Paiute Indians along the way.
“Story tells how Pony Boy received the mochila with the Lincoln’s address at Smith Creek, one of the major stops on the trail to Fort Churchill,” Nylen sent in an email. “He had seen no Indians along the way, and seemed too good to be true,” Nylen said. “But soon Bob found himself charging through a series of ambushes. Indians came at him from all directions. Bob raced on as Indians came out of the brush, firing bullets and arrows from every direction.”
In the melee, Pony Bob was struck first in the arm by an arrow, which he pulled out, then by another arrow in the jaw, fracturing it and knocking out five of his teeth.
He made it to Middle Gate Relay station.
“There, Bob spent a few minutes caring for his wounds, but he insisted on finishing his run to Fort Churchill,” Nylen said.
Pony Bob’s longest ride was the result of the Indian problems in 1860.
“He had received the east bound mail (probably the May 10 mail from San Francisco) at Friday’s Station. At Buckland’s Station his relief rider was so badly frightened over the Indian threat that he refused to take the mail,” Nylen said. “Haslam agreed to take the mail all the way to Smith’s Creek for a total distance of 190 miles without a rest. After a rest of nine hours, he retraced his route with the westbound mail. At Cold Springs he found that Indians had raided the place killing the station keeper and running off all of the stock. Finally he reached Buckland’s Station, making the 380-mile round trip the longest on record.”
The Pony Express was in service from April, 1860 to Nov., 1861.
Interestingly, on Friday morning, I had spoken with a member of the Paiute tribe, a descendent to the Winnemucca family. (Check out my column next week for that story.) During the conversation, we talked a little about the history of the Paiutes, and I heard the conflict from his ancestor’s point of view.
I told Nielsen about it.
“I’m one-eighth Paiute,” he said. “So at the end of all of this, one of my uncles tried killing my other uncle.”
Leading up to the Nevada’s sesquicentennial, I’m writing my columns about the state’s history. I’m also looking for traditions associated with Nevada Day and the Nevada Day parade.
If you have any you would like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 881-1272. You can also share at Facebook.com/nevadaappeal.