The Pony Express rides again at Redstone Center
November 13, 2012
From April 3, 1860, to Oct. 1861, the Pony Express carried mail from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif.
Between Wyoming and Salt Lake City, riders followed the Mormon Trail through Echo Canyon to Henefer and over Big and Little Mountains into the Salt Lake Valley, according to historical documents at the Park City Museum.
However, due to bad weather during the winter of 1860-61, riders couldn’t take the pass over Big Mountain, which led to Emigration Canyon, and the snow forced the riders to come through the mouth of Echo Canyon and follow a route to Weber River to Rockport to Parleys Park and finally down Parleys Canyon to Salt Lake.
During that time, George Snyder and his wife at the time, Rachel Winter Tanner, supplied the express with fresh horses and took care of the riders.
To pay tribute to the Park City and Pony Express connection, Hoffman Fine Art worked with the Redstone Center and artist Peter M. Fillerup to erect a 12-foot bronze sculpture titled "Hard and Fast All the Way" just outside the Redstone gates off of S.R. 224.
The piece depicts a rider and his horse galloping toward Interstate 80.
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Don Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Fine Arts, said another reason for the display is to attract people to the Redstone Center.
"We’ve had some growing pains here and thought that by putting this piece out front, people who drive back and forth to Park City would see it and want to know what it is," Hoffman told The Park Record. "We contacted Jeff Machin, who manages the property, and told him about the idea. Jeff went to his boss and they gave us the permission to erect the sculpture. They also contributed to the pedestal."
Fillerup, who is famous for his drawings and sculptures of the West, said the Redstone work is one of many Pony Express pieces that are part of a project to remark the trail through eight states.
So far, Fillerup has completed three sculptures.
"One is at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Wyoming," he said. "We also have one in front of Cabela’s Sporting Goods store in Nebraska and then this one here in Park City, and we want to thank Sandra Morrison and the Park City Museum who have been very helpful with getting us the accurate historical information."
Fillerup recently talked to officials in Folsom, Calif., and in Nevada.
"We’re looking to get the ball rolling on those projects soon," he said.
The one at the Redstone Center weights 1,800 pounds and measures nearly 12-feet tall.
"One of the challenges of these works is making sure the scale is right," Fillerup said. "With all the different areas where we’re planning to put these sculptures, I have to make sure everything is right because they are outdoor pieces."
Fillerup began creating a clay prototype of the sculpture a year ago.
"The idea for the model was to try to capture the galloping motion of the horse and the intensity of the rider who is focused on his ride," he said.
Once Fillerup was satisfied, he began working on the bronze.
"It’s a high-energy piece," he said.
Fillerup was drawn to the arts at a young age.
"I liked the way stories are told through visual arts, just like the way I like how they are told in music and theatre," he said.
The artist chose sculpting because of the way the works are presented.
"I like the three-dimensional effect and to be able to experience something as you walk around it," he said.
Fillerup always had a fascination with the West because he grew up in Cody, Wyo., the home of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
"One of my neighbors was Buffalo Bill Cody’s grandson, and that only added fuel to the fire," he said. "There is not a person I know who epitomizes the West like Buffalo Bill."
Cody was involved in the westward expansion and worked with Russell, Majors and Waddell, the freight company, which established the Pony Express as part of its operation, Fillerup said.
"When it became imperative that we keep California and Nevada in the union, this company put together this mail service," he explained. "They had most of the Pony Express stations already in place, because of its freighting operation, but they needed to expand the trail through Utah, across Nevada and into California."
The Pony Express filled that space between the Old West and modern technology, he said.
"It was considered a cutting-edge project at the time, but then 18 months later, the country began setting up electronic signals across the continent."
Another reason Fillerup liked the Pony Express was the nature of the riders.
"They were tough and young," he said. "That’s why I named the sculpture ‘Hard and Fast All the Way.’ These guys were out riding 100-mile stretches in all sorts of weather, day and night.
"They had great individual commitment and many died or suffered severe ailments like frozen feet and fingers because they rode through the harsh winter," Fillerup said.
Hoffman said he hopes Fillerup’s sculpture won’t be the only new art that will highlight the Redstone Center.
"We have flowerbeds and other places around here that would be ideal settings for other animal sculptures," Hoffman said. "We already have some moose sculptures in the back of the center, and the sandhill cranes that used to be on display where Peter’s work is now standing were relocated in a nearby flowerbed. I hope the art won’t stop with the Pony Express."
For more information about Peter Fillerup or to purchase am eight-inch maquette of "Hard and Fast All the Way," visit his website at http://www.wildwestdesigns.com.