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Lost in the Stacks: The Last Ride of the Pony Express

The Pony Express was fleeting, financially disastrous, and a killer of both men and horses. However, the myths and romance of the Pony Express continue to endure. Why does a frontier mail service that only lasted 18 months have such an outsized place in the history of the American West? And what was it really like for the riders of the Pony Express? Horseman and journalist Will Grant decided there was only one way to answer both questions:  He would ride the Pony Express himself.  

Saddling up the adorably named Chicken Fry and Badger, Grant set forth from St. Joseph, Missouri on his 2,000-mile trek across Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and finally California. Unlike the original Pony Express riders, his trip would last over 100 days, not 10 days, but he would faithfully follow the original Pony Express trail and camp near original Pony Express way stations when he possibly could. Ticks galore, harsh weather and menacing wild stallions were all part of the journey, but so were friendly people, gorgeous vistas and the joy of two hardworking, steady horses. 

Averaging a pace of 3 miles per hour, there was ample time for Grant to not only experience the hardships of the Pony Express Trail but also reflect on the ecology and people of the American West. As he passed through grasslands and shrublands, salt pans and mud flats, arid deserts and soggy river bottoms, Grant learned firsthand how modern farms, ranches and infrastructure have affected the land. Reminiscent of Rinker Buck’s Oregon Trail, Will Grant’s The Last Ride of the Pony Express will appeal to history readers, horse lovers and those interested in the American West. 

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