Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hashknife riders take to the trail

Neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop the Hashknife Pony Express.

Each January for the last 49 years, the Old West is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona. This event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world. Each rider is sworn in by United States Postal Inspector Andrew Rivas as an honorary mail messenger braving weather, terrain, and modern-day obstacles to deliver the mail.

Beginning in historic Holbrook, AZ, the horseback mail route covered more than 200 miles from the Mogollon Rim through Payson and the wilderness of the Mazatzal range, to the desert city of Scottsdale where it kicked off the Scottsdale Jaycees' Parada del Sol celebration.

The Hashknife was a tool originally used by chuck wagon cooks to cut meat for hash, often fed to cowboys on the range. The Hashknife brand originated in Texas as the identification of the Aztec land and Cattle Company, which moved to Holbrook, AZ in 1866. Later, in 1957, the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse retained limited use of the brand. The Hashknife brand now identifies the Pony Express.
Riders are members of the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse or their invited guests.
The Hashknife outfit has the longest contract with the U.S. Postal Service and annually delivers around 20,000 pieces of first class mail bearing the valued "Via Pony Express" collectors envelope which is hand-stamped by the riders before the start of the ride.
The public can purchase them for $1 each at the Holbrook, Overgaard, Pine, Heber, Payson, Fountain Hills, and Scottsdale Post Offices.
After the delivery all 30 riders go to the Rusty Spur Saloon in downtown Scottsdale for lunch and they hitch their horses to a hitching post on the street in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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