Pony Express



Here’s how this started: On August 30, 2012, Six Flags made its big 2013 capital expenditures announcement, filling us in on all the exciting rides and shows and whatnot coming to its parks nationwide.

Six Flags St. Louis is getting Six Flags Over Texas’ former Flashback, a Vekoma Boomerang shuttle coaster. Its new name? Boomerang.

I began to think about what they might have called this ride instead, what they might have done to it to make it an attraction unique to this park, an attraction that would keep to the park’s original themes, in some way, ideally.

So I did a little research into Missouri history and discovered, to pleasant surprise, that the 1860-61 Pony Express “fast mail” delivery service had its eastern point of origin in St. Joseph, MO. Right away, I liked the metaphoric translation of the “there and back” mail service into the two-way journey of the Boomerang shuttle.

But a modern, loopy steel contraption doesn’t feel very “Old West-y.” Plus, Knotts already has a Pony Express coaster. And yet I didn’t want to let go of the Pony Express idea, as it is so rooted in Missouri history.

And in one of those “Eureka" (MO) moments, it hit me: Steampunk.

I’m not a big steampunk expert, but I do love its aesthetics. (One of my very close friends had a steampunk wedding, which was incredibly kick-ass, and I did the invitation for it.)

So now I was thinking, “What’s a steampunk version of the Pony Express?” And the answer I came up with was the following:

In some Jules Verne-esque alterna-verse, a group of 19th Century settlers has established an outpost on the Moon, having traveled there in steam-powered airships. They are the “Pioneers Of the New Yonder.” And so, to get mail and provisions (tobacky and hooch, mostly) back and forth to them, this PONY Express service has been established in St. Joseph, MO, the location of mid-America's first spaceport.

The queue would help to tell this story and hopefully encourage guests to actually go home and learn more about the real Pony Express. Edutainment and all that.

But if you built the station as a steampunk spaceport and added some pretty simple cladding to the trains, to give them a bolted-copper-and-steel steampunk flying machine look, and then, if the budget allowed, added themed tunnels to the two lift hills? With some “steam” in them and everything? Could be fun.