Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hashknife riders sharing Arizona roads

Courtesy of Hashknife Pony Express 
“Hell-bent for leather” – don’t tell me you’ve never heard that expression. If you are driving between Holbrook and the East Valley, Ariz., in the next few days, you may see an authentic example of what that old saying means. 

Pony Express re-enactment riders will be carrying mail along state highways through Friday, Feb. 10, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, mail pouches, real letters and all.

The Hashknife Pony Express riders left Holbrook Wednesday with plans to stop at post offices in Heber-Overgaard, Payson and Fountain Hills on the way to their final destination in downtown Scottsdale on Friday.

The Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff’s Posse leads the ride every January/February. Riders travel 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale, and deliver 20,000 first-class letters by horseback. They’ve been doing this for 60 years. According to the website, this event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world.

More than two dozen riders in authentic cowboy gear carry the mail, and each one of the riders is sworn in as an honorary U.S. mail messenger. The ride ends in Scottsdale with an annual ceremony.

ADOT says that law enforcement officers will provide a safety escort for the riders, who hand off the mail bags every mile of the relay route. The riders travel along the edge of the highway or shoulder.

A safety warning and request to truckers and other motorists from the ADOT: Please don’t stop along the highway to photograph riders.

As their website proclaims, neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop these riders – so stay the hell out of their way.

The Pony Express will travel along State Route 77, SR 377, SR 277 and SR 260. On Thursday, the Pony Express will take SR 87 to reach the Fountain Hills post office about 3 p.m. The final leg on Friday, from Fort McDowell to downtown Scottsdale, takes them south on SR 87 to the Arizona Canal, where riders will head west.