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PPAC #23: Pony Express Statue in Old Sacramento Historic State Park

Public art encompasses any form of art you see in a public place, large or small, statues, murals, graffiti, gardens, parks, etc. The art should be visible from streets, sidewalks, or outdoor public places. Let your imagination and photographic eye show us diverse samples all over the world.

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Last week for PPAC #22, I had a marvelous response from all of you. I want to say thank you to each of you for joining along in our challenge.  Here are the featured bloggers for this week.  Their posts really grabbed my attention. They are all worthy of a second or third look.

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Our Other Blog: Two Sisters

Cee is taking a well-deserved break this week from PPAC and will be back on board next week.

A Tiny Bit for Natalie’s Coffee Share

On Tuesday my teddy bear, Manny and I hosted a Lens-Artist guest host for the Challenge Host Interview Series. Our guest, along with his Mom, Ma Leueen, was a well-known talking and “blobbing” horse named Biasini from The Horse Addict. “Blobbing” is Biasini’s way of saying blogging. Manny was quite enamored with Biasini’s word and it’s become a household focus of conversation this week.

My Choices for PPAC #23

Using my Canon Rebel XTi, I took these photos during a 2012 Teaching American History Grant field trip. What a fun time we had with teachers from Tulare County and professors from UC Davis learning U.S. history very near to home. When I found these photos of a hard-working Pony Express horse and rider, I thought it was appropriate to make this week all about horses, one statue in particular.

Pony Express Statue in Old Sacramento State Historic Park

The intense look on the rider’s face caught my attention. The rider is so tiny and you know he didn’t make many stops or eat very often. The mail had to get through!

A few statue details

  • Location: 2nd Street and J Street in Sacramento, California
  • The bronze statue was sculpted by Thomas Holland
  • “The Pony Express rider’s clothes were based on a paragraph in Mark Twain’s book Roughing It, published in 1872. 
  • Rider’s saddle and Mochilla  (what they carried the mail in) were modeled after originals that are in the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. 
  • Bit and bridle were designed after military “tack” of the 1850s.
  • The sculptor gave him a wide brimmed hat instead of a skull cap, which the riders usually wore.
  • Statue took over 2 years to design and build, including 9 months casting and finishing by Vianello Art Bronzes.” California Department of Parks and Recreation

Originally taken in color and as the entire statue, I wanted to draw attention to how tired both the rider and animal looked by cropping the body and leaving just the faces. The average delivery time for the Pony Express traveling 1,800 miles was ten days. You can almost see that in their panting faces.

Recently, I read that off-horizon pictures weren’t cool. I was trying to be artistic, and in color, this picture is too busy. So I played with it in Adobe Bridge giving it the preset black and white treatment called Infrared then I adjusted the exposure to remove some of the shadows. I think it brings more emphasis to the statue.

Now it’s your turn.

Take us for a spin around your world to see the public art you love and tell us your stories if you like.

69 replies »

  1. I learned about the Pony Express when I was in elementary school. Going all that distance by horse sounds exhausting. I get exhausted driving more than 2 hours anywhere and it’s from the comfort of my own car.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it fabulous? Such art! I didn’t even appreciate it enough when I was taking the pictures, but only when I went back and shared it for PPAC and did a bit of research. It made me think of the impossible task that those young men and horses had and for what we do with the click of a finger now. We can communicate around the world in seconds. Was it worth all those lives and energy? It must have been. We have spent more time improving transportation and communication so that we can live farther and farther apart from those we love and still stay close. Ironic isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Marsha

    That is a superb choice of the Pony Express Statue in Old Sacramento Historic State Park for your challenge this week and your photos are great captures. Rendering in b&w really brings out the details – look at those muscles and sinews straining! I liked that you included your commentary about your post-processing techniques. Plus I adore seeing Manny at the keyboard.

    And a big thank-you for including my Herons as one of the Featured Bloggers, what a thoughtful gesture.

    Here’s an offering from me for this week’s PPAC challenge:

    Best, Babsje

    Liked by 1 person

    • Manny and I thought you would love it. It is an amazing statue, and gave me so much more appreciation of what our forefathers expected of animals and people to fulfil the task of cross country communication. Whew!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember reading about how hard it was on both the horse and rider. It only lasted 1 1/2 years, until the telegraph was available. Then, it went bankrupt. There were around 186 Pony Express stations that were about 10 miles apart. A letter cost 2 cents to send, while a letter via pony express was around $5. In today’s costs, a letter is 53 cents — so that in our time the cost for pony express would have been $120.

    I thought it very interesting that Billy Tate, a 14-year-old Pony Express rider, rode the express trail in Nevada near Ruby Valley. During the Paiute uprising of 1860, he was chased by a band of Paiute Indians on horseback and forced to retreat into the hills behind some rocks. He killed seven of his assailants in a shoot-out before being killed himself. His body was found riddled with arrows. He wasn’t scalped, a sign that the Paiutes honored their enemy.

    And we think we have it bad today? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen! Just seeing this statue really made me think. So much technology changed the country at that time causing the Pony Express to go bankrupt, but it was such a dangerous occupation that it was a blessing.

      Liked by 1 person




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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