Though the Pony Express Trail is the most famous horseback mail route in the United States, there were a number of other local routes, too. One of note is the Camp Verde to Payson Mail Route, which operated between 1884 and 1914, in what was then, except the last two years, the Arizona Territory.
On this trail, the riders traversed 52 miles of rugged terrain, sacks of mail in tow. They thundered across the desert, facing rough weather, the hostile environment, and at times, forged across the Verde River.
In 2004, the city of Payson, Arizona, erected a memorial to this mail route in downtown’s Deming Pioneer Park. The memorial honors the more than 61 horseback-riding mail carriers who traversed the path. It includes a handsome statue of a mail carrier on horseback, an American flag, and a plaque listing the names of the men who rode this rugged route over its 30-year existence.
Though the iconic Pony Express is a thing of the past, it’s still possible to send mail via horse in Arizona. Each winter for the past 61 years, riders from across the region have celebrated the state’s historic horseback mail trails with the annual Hashknife Pony Express Ride. With the cooperation of the United States Postal Service, the riders deliver approximately 20,000 pieces of mail by horseback. They pass through Payson while heading toward Scottsdale, their final destination.
Know Before You Go
Deming Pioneer Park (formerly plaza) is located on the northwest corner of West Main Street and South Mc Lane Road in downtown Payson, Arizona.