Statue fund drive begins
Officials say bronze in park will help tourism.
Efforts to raise $140,000 for a life-sized Pony Express rider, cast in bronze, will begin in earnest Friday.
That’s when the public is invited to a reception to learn how to donate funds for the sculpture which will be erected in Ehmen Park.Gothenburg Area Chamber of Commerce director Anne Anderson said the community should feel honored to have the Nebraska Pony Express Riders Association select the city to be home to the statue.
“It will also add to the attraction we already have,” Anderson said about the authentic Pony Express Station thousands of visitors stop to see each year in Ehmen Park. “We can hope it will increase tourism.”
Lyle Gronewold, president of the Nebraska Division of the National Pony Express Association, said he thinks the bronze will do great things for Gothenburg and central Nebraska.
“We already have an audience and this will mean more people stopping in Gothenburg and seeing what a neat town and community we have,” Gronewold said. “It will do things for us financially.”
In February of 2009, the Gothenburg City Council gave the state association permission to place the horse and rider in the park.
Gary Ginther of Cambridge has designed the statue, and made small replicas and belt buckles, but won’t begin the life-sized sculpture until a third of the money—$46,666—has been raised, Gronewold said.
The belt buckles are for sale at the Chamber office.
Tax-deductible donations for the sculpture are being accepted through the Pony Express Center Foundation. They can be dropped off, or mailed to the Chamber office at Box 263.
So far, about $6,000 has been raised.
Anderson noted that Nebraska has the most miles—more than 500—of Pony Express route of all the states the frontier mail system crossed.
Nebraska is also the only state without a state Pony Express sculpture, Gronewold said, noting that Sidney is home to the national Pony Express organization’s statue.
Anderson added that officials plan to work with park officials and the council in the design of a sidewalk to the sculpture and benches.
Gronewold added that the Pony Express is one of the few things in western expansion that is still a positive and romantic remnant of the Old West.
“It brought letters from families,” he said.
For more information, contact Gronewold at 529-0804 or Anderson at 537-3505.