Utah Statue

Utah Pony Express Statue The Pony Express Memorial Statue in Salt Lake City was completed and dedicated on Saturday, July 25, 1998, at the Pioneer Trail State Park in Salt Lake City. It is located west of the This Is The Place Monument. This statue is double life size and depicts an older rider standing beside his spent horse, having just thrown the mail bags on another horse, and waving farewell to his replacement; a young man, off balance, still getting into the saddle while his horse takes off. To the rear is the station keeper, holding the rider's exhausted horse.

The designer of this work was the late world-renowned sculptor, Dr. Avard T. Fairbanks. This statue is one of three that were designed by Dr. Fairbanks, the others being at Stateline, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

In his career of professional sculpture spanning eighty years, Dr. Fairbanks created over 100 public monuments, served on the faculty of five Universities, and produced hundreds of Sculptural masterpieces.

Dr. Fairbanks He was born in Provo, Utah into a family of early Utah artists. He studied and exhibited in New York, Paris, and Italy, and he received degrees from Yale, University of Washington, and University of Michigan (Ph.D. anatomy). In 1947 he returned to his native state as Dean of the newly founded College of Fine Arts, University of Utah.

That was the Centennial year of the Utah Pioneers. To celebrate, he made a life-size monument to the Pony Express as a Pioneer Day Parade float. Fabricated in white plaster over a wood and wire framework, it exhibited Fairbanks' mastery of anatomy, action, balance, and rhythm. It contrasted the vigor of the fresh horse to the fatigue of the spent one. And it contrasted youth to age, symbolic of how each older generation must bid Godspeed to a younger one. It honored the Courage not only of the young Express riders (many of whom were Utah boys), but also of those misting heroes, the station keepers, many of whom lost their lives in this daring American enterprise.

Dr. Fairbanks produced numerous other celebrated monuments in the West, the East and abroad. But the chance to finish his Pony Express equestrian for Utah eluded him in his lifetime However, good concepts have a life-force of their own.

Now, 51 years later, that monument is finalized in bronze, recreated by the sons of Avard T Fairbanks with sculptor Robert Shure, and made possible by generous patrons, The National Pony Express Association, and This Is The Place Heritage Park.

Utah Statue Dedication Ceremony The dedication was quite an affair with a large attendance, and a program of prominent citizens and Pony Express riders taking part. Dr. David Fairbanks of Bethesda, Maryland, has been the driving force in making this memorial a reality by raising over a quarter of a million dollars. The other brothers and family members have really worked on the sculpture. It is an honor to have it placed in Utah and a honor for the National Pony Express Association to be a part of it.

Speech given by Fred Abernethy at the dedication of the Pony Express memorial statue on July 25, 1989:

President Hinckley, Governor Leavitt, Mr. Studdert, honored guests, speakers and everyone including X-Press members and descendants of the Original Pony Express. I am happy to see you all here knowing that many of you have traveled hundreds of miles.

Without any further ado, let's go back in time to April 3rd, 1860. This is the day of the first race against time of the Pony Express.

Picture this: you are now young and skinny and rarin to go. You will be the first rider heading west from the Patee House, St. Joseph relaying the mochila to the next rider on its way to Sacramento. Now in the midst of the cheering crowd you mount your horse and with a shout you race off into the pages of history. As you ride the words of the Pony Express Oath is a constant reminder of your duties and obligations.

Everyone please rise, raise your right hand and repeat after me using your name where I use mine to take the Oath.

I, Fred Abernethy - do hereby swear - before the great and living God - that during my engagement - and while I am an employee - of Russell, Majors, and Wad dell. I will under no circumstances - use profane language - 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 I conduct myself honestly, - faithful to my duties, - and so direct my acts, - as to win the confidence - of my employers, So help me God.

You may be seated.

This pledge was severe for the time and place, but it had long been required of all Russell, Majors and Waddell employees and with good results.

And now, although the hoof-beats of yesteryear have faded, new ones now are heard for a period of ten days annually in June, as the National Pony Express Association re-establishes, identifies and re-rides the Historic Pony Express Trail. We ride with the spirit of those who rode before us.

For twenty years now,, over five hundred riders take part in relaying the mail on or close as possible to the trail in the eight Pony Express states, a distance of nearly two thousand miles, riding day and night, maintaining a strict schedule regardless of the weather and the elements.

Every rider is required to repeat the Oath before they are allowed to ride. It serves as a creed to live by today just as it did in the 1860's.

Today as a wonderful memorial is dedicated to the men of the Original Pony Express, I will also note and remember our friends and members who have passed away including those who have died on the trail while carrying the mail on our re-rides.

How could I ever forget the noblest animal ever created for the use of mankind - the horse.

In conclusion; about 5 years ago, Patrick Hearty and I met with the sons of Avard Fairbanks to start the ball rolling to where we are today. These sons truly live the commandment to honor thy Father as evidenced in the efforts they have put forth to make the memorial a reality.

Speech given by NPEA President Wayne Howard:

In 1860, Utah Territory stretched from, the present-day Wyoming border all the way to the western edge of the Great Basin and California. Salt Lake City was the only serious outpost of civilization for more than a thousand miles across what was known as "the Great American Desert."

So it comes as no surprise that Utah and the Pony Express were vitally important to one another. The pioneering spirit that made possible the very settlement of Utah was a natural match for a daring enterprise like the Pony, and Utahns were pivotal in the organization of the Pony Express.

James Bromley, who lived at Echo, was division superintendent between Pacific Springs and Salt Lake City. Major Howard Egan, pioneer of 1847 who explored a significant portion of the Pony Express trail across present-day Nevada, served as superintendent from Salt Lake to Roberts Creek. The far west portion of the line, from Roberts Creek to Sacramento, was run by Bolivar Roberts, who also lived much of his life in Utah.

The honesty, determination, and hardiness of the young Mormon boys made them highly desirable as Pony Express riders They knew horses, they knew the desert, and they added to these abilities a high moral character which fit them particularly well to meet the demands of physical hardship combined with great responsibility.

The names of Richard Erastus and Howard Ransom Egan, Elijah Nicholas Wilson, James and Sam Gilson, George Edwin Little, Elijah Maxfield, Thomas Owen King, and many other local boys are revered for their role as Pony Express riders. And the riders could not have accomplished their assigned tasks without the support of men such as Ephraim Hanks, Joseph Dorton, Peter Neece, H. J. Faust, 0. P. Rockwell, and others who ran the stations and made sure the horses were ready when rider and mail were due. Also, without the supplies for people and livestock, produced on Utah farms, the success of the Pony Express might have been in question.

The Pony Express, in return, provided a desperately needed communications link between Salt Lake City and the United States. Despite their isolation, the Mormon people remained fiercely loyal to their country, and hungered for news from the States as clouds of Civil War darkened. The distance from family and friends in the East suddenly seemed much less. The weekly Deseret News published a special edition, called the "Pony Dispatch," to speed the latest news to its readers. Also, business generated by the establishment of the Express provided welcome income in a cash-poor society.

So it is fitting that this magnificent tribute to the Pony Express be placed here overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. Generations to come will thrill as they look upon this monument and remember an exciting episode in our western history. It is with pride and pleasure that I represent the National Pony Express Association on this occasion.

Utah Statue Dedication