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by Jerry Ellis
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"Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25.00 a week." "So began the first ad for Pony Express riders in a San Francisco newspaper in 1860. The Pony Express was created to carry mail 2,100 miles across the Great American Desert from Missouri to California. The daring Pony riders - including Buffalo Bill himself - risked their lives daily as they rode through lightning, snowstorms, rattlesnakes, murderous outlaws, and Indians on the warpath. Guarding their precious cargo of letters, these young riders raced across plains, mountains, and deserts straight into legend, only to be replaced by the telegraph and its "talking wires" a year and a half later." "Who were these daredevil riders who promised to get the mail through in only ten days? What were their dreams? What made them different from young men today? One spring morning in 1991, Jerry Ellis, author of Walking the Trail, which chronicled his journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, decided to heed the call of the wild: He undertook the adventure of a lifetime, retracing the original Pony Express Trail. Traveling by horseback, covered wagon, foot, and canoe, Ellis, a Cherokee descendant, explored the country that was once home to the brave Pony riders. His journey brought him to the remains of old Express stations, where the riders would change weary horses for fresh ones; hotels where admirers would throng to greet the young men as they set off on their rides; and he found simple stone markers, nearly hidden in undergrowth, that traced the lonely paths of the riders so far from their families." "His exciting tale is one of our country's past as well as its present, filled with the people who lived over a hundred years ago and those who live along the trail today. On his journey he met strangers with open hearts - like the old man who lived in a hole in the earth, the Sioux Indian who made him a Brother to the Serpent, and the gentle woman who trusted him with her secrets and offered him love. But he also encountered bigotry and violence along the trail. This dark side of human nature seemed in striking contrast to the nobility of the heroic characters of the Wild West - and yet, were the angry men Ellis met on his journey so very different from the boys who joined the Pony Express? In this beautifully written book, Ellis weaves together stories of the original riders with those of the people he meets, discovering the fabric of this nation's character and exploring what it means to be a man. With simplicity and honesty he tells a tale of such beauty, hope, and adventure that it will inspire readers to dare to dream."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)917.804 — History and Geography Geography and Travel North America Western U.S. Travel
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