Hashknife Pony Express makes history delivering Super Bowl football from Holbrook

Hashknife Pony Express riders transporting the football on the Holbrook to Payson route on Feb.1. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

Hashknife Pony Express riders transporting the football on the Holbrook to Payson route on Feb.1. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

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The package was delivered to Museum of the West in Scottsdale, Ariz. Navajo County Sheriff Clouse and Scottsdale’s Mayor David Ortega at the Parada Del Sol Parade. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

HOLBROOK, Ariz. — The annual Hashknife Pony Express was extra special this year as it became a part of Super Bowl history when Gary Hayes Jr., a BNSF locomotive engineer based in Winslow, was selected to deliver one of the game balls in Glendale.

Hayes was selected among a team of Pony Express riders to run the final leg of the approximate 180-mile journey from Holbrook to Scottsdale. When he arrived at the Museum of the West in Scottsdale, he handed off the team’s special freight—a ball for Super Bowl LVII—for the Feb. 12 game.

This special delivery by the Hashknife Pony Express was just one of the NFL’s many commemorative events leading up to the Super Bowl.

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Hashknife Pony Express riders transporting the football on the Holbrook to Payson route on Feb.1. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

“It was awesome,” Hayes said on BNSF social media. “It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was honored to be selected to run that last leg and handoff the ball to the head of the Super Bowl Host Committee.”

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The package was delivered to Museum of the West in Scottsdale, Ariz. Navajo County Sheriff Clouse and Scottsdale’s Mayor David Ortega at the Parada Del Sol Parade. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

Hashknife Pony Express history

Each winter for the last 61 years, the old west is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona. This exciting event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world. Each rider is sworn in as an honorary mail messenger braving weather, terrain, and modern-day obstacles to deliver the United States mail.

Beginning in historic Holbrook, Arizona the horseback mail route covers over 200 miles from the Mogollon Rim through the wilderness of the Mazatzal range to the desert city of Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Hashknife Pony Express is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world and has been a tradition since the 1950s. This event is a tribute to the original Pony Express, which was a mail delivery service that operated in the United States in the mid-19th century.

The Hashknife Pony Express is not only a historical tribute, but it is also a celebration of the western heritage and culture of the state of Arizona. The riders dress in authentic western attire and ride horses to deliver the mail. Along the way, they stop at several communities to exchange mailbags, and the event is often accompanied by live entertainment, food vendors and other festivities.

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The package was delivered to Museum of the West in Scottsdale, Ariz. Navajo County Sheriff Clouse and Scottsdale’s Mayor David Ortega at the Parada Del Sol Parade. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

The Hashknife was a tool originally used by chuck wagon cooks to cut meat for hash, often fed to cowboys on the range. The Hashknife brand originated in Texas as the identification of the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, which moved to Holbrook in 1866. Later, in 1957, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse retained limited use of the brand. The Hashknife brand now identifies the Pony Express. Riders are members of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse or their invited guests.

The Hashknife outfit has the longest contract with the U.S. Postal Service and annually delivers around 20,000 pieces of first-class mail bearing the valued “Via Pony Express” cachet which is hand-stamped by the riders before the start of the ride. The “Official Pony Express Envelope” can be purchased for $1 at local post offices.

This year’s Hashknife Pony Express was held Feb. 11 and 12. The event attracted a large crowd of people who were eager to celebrate the western heritage and see the riders in action.

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The package was delivered to Museum of the West in Scottsdale, Ariz. Navajo County Sheriff Clouse and Scottsdale’s Mayor David Ortega at the Parada Del Sol Parade. (Photos/Navajo County Sheriff’s Office)

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