Shorty Neal

Shorty Neal

Shorty Neal is the last of a long line of illustrious riders of the Pony Express -- and he still functions as the chief contact with the outside world for eighteen people on his route.

Several years ago in 1996 I first heard of Shorty Neal, "Last Pony Express Rider". The following exchange of messages may be of interest. Names have been deleted to protect the "guilty."

On 10/8/96, Donna wrote:

Have you ever heard of a man named "Shorty Nealon" mentioned as a rider for the Pony Express? I checked your list and did not see his name mentioned.

Thanks for your assistance.

Donna


Donna,

Sorry I have no info on "Shorty Nealon", however, yours is not an uncommon question. Many riders carried the mail on horseback at times other than the Pony Express of 1860-61. If you have some info that you would like to share, I am building a page that will address "other" riders and "other" stations. I would like to know: date and place of birth, date and place of death, dates and places rode, any stories about his rides for the "pony express", and what he did in later life. With your permission I will post this info in the Pony Express Home Pages. This site has a tremendous following, and maybe someone else will have some additional info.


On 10/8/96 Donna wrote:

Tom,

Thanks for your speedy response! I have a photo copyrighted 1949 by the (?????) Historical Society/(????) Western Ways Collection. The claim is that it is of a man named Shorty Nealon who was the last known Pony Express rider. This is very confusing (especially the date) and I am now checking directly with the (????) to see if they can research the photo. I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Thanks again!

Donna


Donna,

Let me know what you find out. you can not believe how many "last known Pony Express riders" there are.


On 10/15/96 Donna wrote:

Tom,

Just wanted to get back to you. Turns out the people who were using the "Shorty Neal" photo said that they "stretched" the fact that it was a Pony Express rider. (Since the photo was taken in 1949 it's a bit more than a stretch I think.)

Anyway, sorry for the false alarm.

Thanks for your help!

Donna


From: Tom Crews on Tue, Oct 8, 1996
Subject: RE: Riders
To: Donna

Donna,

Thanks for the info. It just goes to show how the romance and lore of the Pony Express can even affect the present day.

When Progress, in the form of a stripped down 1928 Ford, rattled the death knell for the Pony Express, Shorty Neal thought it might make his job easier.

Shorty, who used to ride the mail between two small Arizona mining towns, Sombrero Butte and Copper Creek, is still the mailman. Time was when he rose at dawn, saddled up his horse and started the long hard ride over roadless country. Modern road-building equipment made possible the hewing of a road between the two towns, and now Shorty coaxes his flivver over the rocks to deliver the important letters to the miners. ranchers and prospectors along the line.

Rough Country

The run between Sombrero Butte and Copper Creek crosses rugged country. Where Shorty once went on horseback he now goes by car. But he is finding that automobiles have as much personality and temperament as his horse did, and now and then, when he hauls a heavy rock out of the road or tinkers with the mysterious block of metal that is an engine, he wistfully longs for his horse.

By Pony Express Ranchers and prospectors along the line eagerly await the coming of Shorty and his mailbag. He is the best informed person in his area. He hears the good news and the bad news, the glad news and the sad news. His service is personal and friendly, and by the very nature of his work he's just as accommodating as he can be. He's a walking newspaper and an information bureau. And he can be depended upon in all kinds of weather. He's the connecting link between the outside world and the customers.

Rider Coming Getting the mail becomes a high adventure when Shorty is the postman. In the isolated country, that is his territory Shorty more than the mail man--he"s the neighbor who comes to visit. he's the connecting link with the outside world. The pony express has given way to the march of Civilization. But the friendliness of the mail man, his neighborliness is still the most important thing about him.

Source: Arizona Highways, Arizona Highway Department, Phoenix, Arizona, March 1946.