Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Placerville - Pony Express Route

Sam Hamilton on right

El Dorado County August 30, 1993

Supposedly, this ad ran in Missouri and California and obviously no young man could possibly resist such tantalizing copy that promised so much adventure. In truth, the riders varied quite a bit in age, to as old as forty, but they did tend to be smallish. Originally, and in order to save weight, the company wasn’t going to allow the riders to carry guns, but changed their minds.

Every rider took the following oath:
"I, ......, do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God."

The two riders that made the first eastbound ride through California were Sam Hamilton and Warren Upson, and they are the subjects for my song ‘Pony Express.’ We’ll be covering more details of the ride with ensuing landmarks along highway 50, but as to Placerville, Sam rode in at 6:45 am on April 4, 1860, having covered 45 miles in four hours after a three hour delay with the ferry, and riding through mud, in pitch darkness through a freezing rain. He changed horses here for last leg of his ride, a twelve mile run to Sportsman Hall, before the handoff to Warren Upson. In spite of the awful weather, they made great time.

1993 photo

This song is part of the album ‘Gold Country’ to be released in the near future. The intent is to musically convey a feeling of horse and rider, the pace, and with the stops they made.

PONY EXPRESS                  © Radio Flier Music

My name’s Sam Hamilton, first rider on the maiden run
Got my satchel, knife and gun, ridin’ through the rain and mud

My name’s Sam Hamilton, first rider on the maiden run
Put my horses to the test, ridin’ for the Pony Express

Quarter to three I’m runnin’ late, in the darkness I await
The delta steamer comes I hope, waitin’ on the Antelope

Steamer’s here I’m off in a flash, through the rain and mud I dash
Can’t rest I got to ride, mile count is seventy-five

Cold rain from the North, on this April 4th
I’ll say for all to hear, 1860 is the year 

Folsom to Placerville, Hangman’s yes I will
Remount and then I’m gone, make Sportsman’s Hall by dawn

Now my ride is done, hand off to Warren Upson
Second rider to the test, maiden run of the Pony Express

Cold sleet turns to snow, up the western slope he goes
Yeah we passed the test, first riders of the Pony Express

2008 photo

Plaque inscription: NO. 701 PLACERVILLE-OVERLAND PONY EXPRESS ROUTE IN CALIFORNIA - Gold rush town and western terminus of the Placerville-Carson Road to the Comstock, Placerville was a relay station of the Central Overland Pony Express from April 4, 1860 until June 30, 1861. Here on April 4, 1860, the first eastbound pony rider, William (Sam) Hamilton, changed horses, added an express letter to his mochila, and sped away for Sportsman's Hall. Placerville was the western terminus of the Pony Express from July 1, 1861 until its discontinuance on October 26, 1861.
Location: SW corner of Main and Sacramento, Placerville
Google maps: 38.727924,-120.803154

1 comment:

  1. I found what i think to be an original "pony express" flyer shown above, would anyone know if theres any value? Thanks Jim