Arizona’s Hashknife Pony Express

I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, a place that used to proclaim itself as the West’s Most Western Town. For longer than I’ve been around and to this day still, the first-ish week of February is officially Western Week. There are a lot of happenings to celebrate the occasion, including the Parada de Sol Parade, festivals and art walks.

The highlight of the week for me and many others is the arrival of the Hashknife Pony Express riders — the oldest sanctioned pony express in the world. The ride begins in Holbrook, Arizona and covers more than two hundred miles, from the Mongollon Rim through the Mazatzal range and all the way to Scottsdale where the riders then join the parade. Believe me, it’s quite a thrill to watch the riders come blazing in to town and to cheer them in the parade.

The ride gets its name from the hashknife, a tool originally used by chuck wagon cooks to cut meat and prepare — yes, you guessed it — hash. The Hashknife Pony express delivers approximately twenty-thousand pieces of first-class mail annually from around the world. The official pony express envelopes go on sale well in advance of the ride and are in high demand, so don’t delay in purchasing yours! All envelopes are hand-stamped with the “Via Pony Express” cachet and considered collectors’ items.

As you can imagine, the riders who participate in this keeping-history-alive-ride are a hardy bunch, and they take their job seriously. All are sworn in as an honorary mail deliverer and must be a member of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse. Stops are made along the route where the mail is “put up” in the local post office and the riders camp out for the night. Locals often join in, hosting dinners with campfire entertainment for the riders, all of whom are decked out in authentic Western clothing. Sometimes there are fundraisers or school educational programs.

Ever since its inception, this famous ride had taken place without fail. Just like the motto says, neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night will stop the Hashknife Pony Express from making their annual trek. I’ve been lucky enough to not only see them in the parade many times, but once leaving Holbrook. Sounds like a great idea for a book!

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Cathy McDavid has been penning Westerns for Harlequin since 2005. With over 55 titles in print and 1.6 million-plus books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins is married to her own real-life sweetheart. After leaving the corporate world seven years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet — oops, no. Make that winning the hearts of feisty, independent women who give the cowboys a run for their money. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

36 thoughts on “Arizona’s Hashknife Pony Express”

  1. This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. You are right this sounds like a great idea for a book. How exciting it would be

  2. Wow, Cathy. I had no idea. So these riders actually deliver real mail for the USPS?

    I would love, love to see this celebration. I love parades, too. Seeing the riders join the parade would give me chills. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing. What a fun state you live in that really celebrates the West!

  3. I didn’t realize there was a modern day Pony Express in action, Cathy. How fabulous! I love that they take their job so seriously and honor the spirit of the original riders. And I love that people value history enough to keep bits of it alive like this. I obviously need to travel to Scottsdale in February one of these days. 🙂

  4. What a fun way to spend a couple of days. It took much to be a Pony Express rider. The hazards of yesteryear were a bit different than they are today. Instead of Indians and robbers they need to watch out for careless drivers. It sounds like a fun event. Maybe someday we will make it out that way at that time of the year. We will be in the area this sparing, but not the right time for this.

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