18. Arrival In St Joseph
Jo is well suited to receive such a group. It’s heyday was from 1845 –
1900 and many of the older buildings still remain in various states of
repair. We stopped at the old
stables then up to Patee House where the mail was handed over and speeches
were made- I was called upon to make one myself.
After some socializing the party thinned out and I considered where
to spend the night. It was
actually quite a come down. For
3 ˝ weeks I had been a Pony rider crossing the mountains, deserts and
plains of the continent facing snow, heat and tornados an reliving the
feats of the riders. Now I
was just a tourist looking for a place to put his tent.
it feel like an achievement? Completing
the journey by bicycle would have been a gold medal.
By motorbike it wasn’t even a bronze.
Pony itself lasted just 19 months. It
was ended when the telegraph lines joined up across the continent and
messages could be sent at a speed which made the Express look slow.
The riders had traveled 65,000 miles on horseback and lost only one
bag of mail.
It was a financial failure losing perhaps $500,000 and did not lead to a hoped for government mail contract. The losses revealed bankruptcy and wrongdoing in the company which collapsed, ruining and disgracing partners, but the exploits of the riders and station men became a famous part of the lore of the American West.