An Equestrian Gallop on Miami Beach

While bicycling to work today, I stopped for a few minutes as a couple of stunning horses emerged from a gigantic tent just before the 22nd Street entrance to Miami Beach. The horses and riders are preparing for the Longines Global Champions Tour, the world’s premier show-jumping series. This is actually the fourth year in which the city of Miami Beach has hosted the Olympic-level equestrian sport.

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When I arrived at the museum library after my own (far more mundane) bicycle ride along the boardwalk, I discovered that today also marked the anniversary of the initiation of the Pony Express mail service in 1860. A year and a half before the telegraph and nine years before the first transcontinental railroad connected California to the Mid-West, Pony Express riders carried news and provided mail service between the Missouri and the West Coast, an effort especially critical as the threat of civil war loomed on the horizon. The Pony Express established a string of 100 relay stations covering the 1,800-mile stretch between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, had a stable of nearly 500 horses, and employed 80 riders to deliver the mail. The first Westbound rider to pioneer the route arrived with his mail packet on April 13, 10 days after having set out; his Eastbound counterpart finished his journey two days later. While the Pony Express became one of the iconic legends of the American West and the subject of many Western movies, it ultimately proved unprofitable and short-lived, and was made obsolete and supplanted only nineteen months after it began by the Pacific Telegraph line. Even as the railroads took over transcontinental travel and mail service, as late as the 1939 New York World’s Fair, even that industry paid tribute to the pioneer spirit of the express riders.

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~ by "The Chief" on April 3, 2018.

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