Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pony Express rides again

An invitation for Idaho Governor Charles (C.A.) Robins to attend the Oregon City Centennial celebration passed through Pendleton July 28, 1948, on its way to Boise. But the invitation wasn’t traveling by U.S. Post Office mail, it was carried in a saddlebag on the back of a horse. As part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Oregon City, invitations were sent to the governors of adjoining states via the Pony Express — or, at least, a recreation of the mail system that ran from Missouri to California between April 3, 1860 and October 1861 prior to the invention of the telegraph. Washington Governor Monrad Wallgren also had an invitation delivered by horse.

Janice Daugherty, queen of the 1948 Umatilla County Fair and a member of the Hermiston Trail Dusters, rode into Pendleton and handed off the saddlebag containing Idaho’s invitation to Patti Folsom, queen of the 1947 Pendleton Round-Up, at exactly 8 a.m. Folsom took off so fast that a message from the city of Hermiston to the city of Pendleton was forgotten in the packet and had to make the trip to Idaho.

Folsom and other members of the Mustangers riding club in Pendleton ran their leg of the journey through Tutuilla and the Umatilla Indian Reservation on the way to Kamela, where they were to meet the La Grande Riders later that day. The journey was scheduled to cover 36 miles, with the packet changing hands every four miles. The Pendleton contingent arrived in Kamela so far ahead of schedule they traveled another six miles, meeting the La Grande group on the way. And they covered the distance in a record 3 hours, 11 minutes, according to old-timers who said “When you make 14 miles an hour, mostly uphill, you’re a-travelin’.”

Kathryn Lazinka, who rode three sections of the route, made the final handoff. Lazinka was one of the most famous Mustangers of the time and was leading for both the men’s and women’s senior championships for the 1948 Mustangers season. 

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