By Linda Kor
Members of the Hashknife Posse are gearing up for their 56th annual Pony Express Ride from Holbrook to Scottsdale carrying the U.S. Mail. This year’s ride is dedicated to former Navajo County Sheriff Marlin Gillespie.
Each January the cry of “Hashknife” carries across the crisp morning air as the posse leaves Holbrook with bags of official U.S. Mail under the longest continuously sanctioned Pony Express mail contract held with the U.S. Postal Service.
This year the ride begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, when a posse rider leaves the Holbrook Post Office with the first bag of the 2014 letters to be carried over the Mogollon Rim and on to Scottsdale.
The posse riders will exchange the mailbags every mile or two, relaying the letters to the next rider waiting alongside the roadway. All of the packed mailbags will be carried in turn over the route.
On the first day of the ride, the Pony Express riders will travel over State Route 77 to SR 377 and on SR 260 into Payson, passing through Heber and by Pine, where Pony Express letters are added to the mailbags. The riders will arrive in Payson around 4:45 p.m., where a dinner is held in celebration of the ride.
On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 30, the Pony Express riders will travel SR 87 to their evening campsite along the Verde River on the Ft. McDowell Indian Reservation just outside of Fountain Hills.
After a traditional cowboy breakfast by the river, the riders will mount up for the final leg of their ride to the posse statue in Scottsdale. The mail will be processed at the main Scottsdale Post Office on Osborn Road, and will then be delivered to patrons by conventional carriers.
The 56th ride celebration starts in Holbrook on Tuesday, Jan. 28, where the swearing in ceremony will be held at 12 noon at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Holbrook to authorize the 2014 riders and support crew to carry the mail.
A dinner will be at 7 o’clock that evening at the Elks Lodge.
At 6 o’clock on the morning of the ride, the Holbrook Senior Center will host a breakfast for the Hashknife Posse, as well as area residents and visitors.
It is not too soon to prepare letters for the Pony Express Ride. To mail a pony express letter, postal patrons may use the special mailers that are available at the Holbrook Post Office, or enclose a letter in a regular envelope with a return address, the addressee and required postage. In the lower left-hand corner write “Via Pony Express.” This letter may then be placed in another envelope and mailed to Pony Express Mail, Holbrook Postmaster, Holbrook, Ariz. 86025. Citizens may also deposit their Pony Express mail in the special Pony Express Canister located at both the Holbrook and Winslow post offices.
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By Linda Kor