workers to ride Canaan Pony Express run
10-mile horse ride is a tradition
at Canaan Fall Festival
MADISON, Ind. (September 2004) At 7:15 p.m.
on April 3, 1860, Johnny Fry left Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph,
Mo., and headed west by horseback. Frys purpose was simple: to
deliver mail. He was met halfway by Billy Hamilton, who similarly had
left Sacramento, Calif., in the wee hours of the morning of
by Don Ward
years Pony Express riders
arrive at the Madison Post Office with
mailbag in hand. It took them 54 minutes.
They are (from left) Bonnie Pegg, Sherry
Schack, Ron Bladen, Jennifer Babb
and Robert Jones.
April 4. Ten days later, Fry returned to St. Joseph carrying
the eastbound mail, making history with the first ever delivery by Pony
In the tradition of those early mail carriers, on Sept. 11 Postmaster
Carolyn Hankins of the Canaan, Ind., U.S. Post Office will prepare mail
for delivery by riders on horseback to Madison, a distance of 10 miles.
The event, the longest running Pony Express Mail Run of its kind in
the country, is the highlight of the Canaan Fall Festival, Sept. 10-12.
Festivities also will include a parade, live music, games, contests,
an arts and crafts flea market, plenty of food and an old fashioned
Typically, the Clifty Creek Saddle Club provides the riders. This year,
for the first time in many years, the new postmaster at Madison, Mike
Bowen, has arranged for post office employees to take part in the run.
Those scheduled to ride include Winona Lake, Ind., postmaster Pam Ford
and husband, Keith Ford; Milroy, Ind., postmaster Angie Fette; Winslow,
Ind., postmaster Cheryl Hill and husband, Marvin; and Vevay, Ind. postal
carrier Tom Rogers.
The first Canaan Pony Express Mail Run, held on Oct. 14, 1967, was organized
to draw attention to the Canaan post office.
This was a small post office and they were going to close it,
explained Hankins, who became postmaster in May following the retirement
of Minnie Kessler. According to Hankins, the community rallied behind
the post office and planned the Pony Express ride in conjunction with
the Canaan Fall Festival. The first rider was Louis Griffin.
The ride was a success and the following year a stagecoach, driven by
Elbert Hartman, was used. Every year since, the mail has been carried
by several experienced horseback riders.
After being sworn in by DeAnna Lackney, acting manager of Post Office
Operations of the Greater Indiana District, the riders dressed in period
clothing will carry the mail in authentic 19th century saddlebags to
Each year the Canaan Post Office receives hundreds of letters and post
cards from all over the world to be included in this popular tradition.
In the past, weve received letters from Germany, Japan,
China all over the world. Sometimes we have 1,400 to 1,500
pieces of mail, said Hankins. All requests for mail to be included
in the now famous event are honored, as well as many more for mail to
be postmarked with the commemorative, hand-stamped pictorial cancellation
for up to one month following the event.
From Madison, (the mail) is put into the regular mail stream,
but they are really careful not to stamp over the (commemorative) cancellation,
said Hankins. The mail that is not carried by horseback is sealed in
larger, return envelopes and sent back to requesting parties.
Those who want mail included in the 38th annual Canaan Pony Express
Mail Run can send stamped, addressed cards and letters (placed in larger
envelopes) to Pony Express Mail Run Station, Postmaster, 8842 N. Canaan
Main St., Canaan, IN 47224-9998.
A commemorative post card featuring a historic photograph also can be
purchased from the Canaan Post Office. For more information, call (812)
In addition to the popular Pony Express run, the 40th annual Canaan
Fall Festival will be brimming with activities for families, according
to chairman Gale Ferris. We try to have a family oriented event
thats laid back and casual, something that people can just relax
and enjoy, he said.
A parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and an old-fashioned community
church service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the stage on Main
Street. Bands appearing during the festival include The Sundowners at
8 p.m. Friday, Tommy Day Band at 7 p.m. Saturday; and Musical Resource,
the Nancy Turner Group at 1 p.m. Sunday. Also performing at 5 p.m. Saturday
will be Indiana Boots and Jeans Line Dancing and throughout the weekend
will be a balloon twisting exhibition. Other activities include the
Little Indiana Papoose Contest at 7 p.m. Friday, a frog jumping contest
and a Chief White Eye painting contest.
For more information, call Ferris at (812) 839-4770.
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