I love living in the Sierra Mountains where the 1849 Gold Rush brought a lot of people to our area. Part of the pleasure of living here are the museums, traditions and old timers that still have memories – and they love to share them with anyone who is clever enough to listen. History is my favorite genre because there are so many interesting tales.
One of the traditions is to bring a wagon train over the high pass between Lake Tahoe and Placerville every year. The historical reenactment of the “Great Western Migration,” a designated bi-state event that takes place in California and Nevada, happens every June. All wagons are authentic vintage replicas and period clothing is worn at all times by wagon train participants.
School groups often travel with them for one or two days, doing all the things a child might have done 150 years ago when he or she traveled west with their parents. It takes about a week and the people who relive this experience make it as close to the actual event that it seems real. The highway patrol closes the road and the horses plod along with their loads. They spend a night in the parking lot of the bowling alley down the road from us and the last day, they ride in a parade through town before throwing a huge barbeque.
We are also on the route of the pony express rider.
One year my daughter and I were at the post office and when we came out, there he was – a reenactment pony express rider, carrying mail back over the high pass toward Lake Tahoe. We followed behind him all the way to our turnoff. Can you imagine how long it took a letter to travel from here to ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ was?
The story of the Pony Express has continued to fascinate Americans since Johnny Fry left St. Joseph April 3, 1860, heading west to Sacramento, CA.
This relay mail service celebrated 150 years on April 3, 2010. The Central Overland and California Pikes Peak Express Company carried letters and telegrams for 19 months proving the train and pony with riders could make the trip over 1,966 miles in 10-14 days.