by Frank C. McCarthy
The amazing announcement was made on January 27, 1860. The Central Line railroad would fund what was essentially a magnificent publicity stunt: supplying mail to the desperate gold rushers of the glorified shantytown, Virginia City, Nevada by means of a “Pony Express.” In design it was audacious―carrying correspondence across half the continent in just ten days. In practice, it was a glorious adventure for the courageous (some say foolhardy), daring (some said arrogant) young men who rode the dozens of horses.
To commemorate this audacious moment in American history, artist Frank McCarthy portrayed the lone rider leaping over an arroyo as five Indian braves get too close for comfort. In a single exhilarating image, McCarthy embodies what attracted these Western heroes to the Express in the first place.
“All it was, really, was a horse race,” McCarthy explained. “The Indians weren’t very hostile in most cases. It was just a matter of pride if they could outrace him. But that didn’t happen very often because the Express rider had many way stations, so riders could run their ponies faster for shorter periods of time. In the painting I wanted the feeling of the rider rising up and jumping with the Indians in close pursuit.”
On October 24, 1861, it was all over when the Western and Eastern telegraph lines were joined in Salt Lake City. The San Francisco and New York papers could now exchange reports for half the cost without waiting three weeks for the news to reach them. The Pony Express was superfluous . . . and no more. But it was fun while it lasted.
McCarthy’s trademark sense of suspense, action and excitement are abundant in this wonderful Anniversary release from his award-winning body of work. Get this Fine Art Edition for the brave, adventure-seekers in your life.