For a brief 18-month period between April 1860 and November 1861, the east-west route across central Nevada was the busiest it had ever been. Spurred by the looming civil war, California Senator William M. Gwinn proposed a fast mail service from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, provided the mail could be delivered within ten days. The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company won the contract; but the service that resulted is better known by its operating title: the Pony Express.
"The station was a wretched place half built and wholly unroofed, the four rough boys ate standing. Our animals found good water whilst we supped upon excellent steak from a freshly killed beef."
So wrote English adventurer Sir Richard Burton, in 1860, when he rode west with the Pony Express across Nevada. Pony Express stations were roughly 10 miles apart - about as far as a good horse could run at a gallop - and the horses were changed at each station, although the riders could expect to spend at least 70 miles in the saddle during a shift. Fortunately, my steed has more pace and endurance than even the fastest of postal ponies: a Ducati 1000DS Multistrada, on loan from Southern California Motorsports.
Cold Springs Station was located near modern-day Austin, Nevada, on US Route 50, "America's Loneliest Road." There's no correspondence on-board for the Multistrada to deliver, but I'll be putting it through its paces nonetheless, riding Highway 50 from Ely to Carson City. But first I need to get to Ely from Boulder City, which is just a house-ante cab ride from the Las Vegas casinos.