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Pony Express, pioneers and the summer of fun

June 14, 2010

Public school students here generally study Utah history in 4th grade.  Our history studies look nothing like the public schools’, but because we’ve gotten up to the year 1850, I decided it would be a good time to throw in some Utah history as the Mormon pioneers began settling the state in 1847. 

(I realize Utah has much history before 1847, but I’m still searching for a good book to help me cover those topics.  Suggestions are welcome.) 

I’m still trying to make up for basically going nowhere last summer, so this will be the summer of field trips around our state.  We had planned to go to This is the Place Heritage Park on Saturday for the Mountain Men Rendezvous, but it was a little too rainy.

So this morning, after getting 4 hours of sleep thanks to E, attending the cub scouts’ flag day program at the church at 7 a.m., and doing a little math and writing,  we headed up the hill to the Park with a picnic lunch.  A field trip and a picnic–yes, I won major fun mom points today!

Besides being Flag Day, today was also Salt Lake’s day to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express.  So in the Park at noon, we got to see a short reenactment of a Pony Express rider changing horses.

We bought a pass for the year (which was the same price as our family getting in twice) so we can go anytime we want and we don’t feel like we have to see everything in one day.  The weather was really nice and not hot, but we were still worn out from walking up and down the hills and didn’t have the energy to see the entire park.  We saw some homeschool friends of ours who are volunteering up there all summer and it occurred to me that that would probably be an even better way to experience our pioneer heritage, but somehow with a baby, this was not the year.  Some days  just leaving the house should win major points.

The boys loved the park though.  We saw quite a few things that we hadn’t before like the tithing office/bishop’s storehouse, the mountain man camp, and the Native American village.  We also sat in on a lesson in the schoolroom and we rode the train around the pond.

They got to try their hand at candle-dipping.

In a perfect moment for last week’s Story of the World chapter, they got to pan for gold which they could trade in for a piece of candy down at the bank. 

They were all weighed to see if they could qualify to be a Pony Express rider who had to weigh no more than 120 pounds.  They all qualified…by a long shot.

Then they had to show their skill with a horse.

Later this afternoon down by the National Pony Express monument, they were officially sworn in as Pony Express riders and had to “hereby swear, before the great and living God, that during my engagement, and while am an employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell (while at This Is the Place Heritage Park) I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers.  So help me God.”

Then we watched the official reenactment Pony Express rider come riding in. 

It was a great day.  I am utterly exhausted, but still looking forward to the rest of what we’ve got planned for this summer.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2010 7:59 am

    This is one place we still haven’t taken our kids too. I know they would LOVE it!

  2. Nicole Keller permalink
    June 15, 2010 8:33 am

    We got to see the Pony Express riders as they rode up State Street. We had a doctor’s appointment for Joshua in Murray and they were riding past on State Street as we drove. I felt bad for the poor horses running like that on the hard pavement. Not very good for their feet. Glad your boys had such a fun day!

  3. June 15, 2010 12:05 pm

    That looks like so much fun. I am still looking for a good book about The Pony Express just to introduce the topic to a 6th grader but nothing too long or in depth. Any ideas?
    Blessings
    Diane

    • cellista permalink*
      June 15, 2010 8:36 pm

      I have a few good books here from our library, two picture books:

      Pony Express by Steven Kroll
      They’re Off, the Story of the Pony Express by Cheryl Harness

      Also, a Nat’l Geographic book with historic photographs and documents, but still quite short: Riding With the Mail by Gare Thompson

  4. Grandma permalink
    June 15, 2010 4:10 pm

    What a fun day! We’ll have to go with you some time. I’d be exhausted too. But think of all the vitamin D you got.

  5. June 16, 2010 11:14 am

    What a fun thing to do! Makes me wish that we were close enough to come and see some of this fun stuff you’re doing in your Summer of Fun. What a cool idea! Makes me wonder how much of that sort of thing I can find around here. It wouldn’t be church history, but it would be interesting nonetheless.

    If you are interested, this would be a lovely addition to the Classical Homeschooling Carnival.

  6. June 18, 2010 11:10 pm

    Field trips like this are always so much fun. I am usually exhausted after them but the kids love them and I feel good about them getting out in a more hands on experience. This one looks so fun!

    Good Luck with the pioneer/Utah history study. We are doing California history and it is hard to find information about state history without going to a text book. I know I prefer, and my kids do too, to learn things through stories.

    It sure is fun to see the kids make connections with things they see everyday but didn’t really know what they were looking at.

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