LAYTON -- Gerald Hasty has a passion for the 1860s, complete with period clothing and cameras.
And his passion also has led him to help with the annual recreating of the Pony Express mail route that began at that time.
This year the re-enactment is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the famed mail service, will go through Utah for about 28 hours starting Monday morning with riders handing over a mochila that holds mail and fits in the historical manner over their saddle. The Utah leg will start west of Evanston, Wyo., and go along the original route to Ibapah, Utah.
But it's through modern technology that Hasty will contribute to the event, which runs for 10 days, involves more than 600 horsemen and women and follows the historical route from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif.
"Safety is the most important thing," Hasty said.
"We'll be out there in no-man's land where cell phones don't work."
A concern for safety is why the event is being held in August for the first time, said Mark Jenkins of Salt Lake City, the state event coordinator.
For three decades, the re-enactment has been in June but a concern this year over an outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus postponed the June run.
Safety also is the reason the event always is scheduled during a full moon, Hasty said. It's also what brings him into the mix for Utah's portion.
Hasty is the Utah emergency radio coordinator for the Beehive State leg of the race.
His job is to bring together a network of ham radio operators and repeaters that are ready to help in the event of an injury or other mishap with the riders, horses or their vehicles along the historic trail.
"We can run across the entire state," Hasty said. "This is the longest-running emergency communication test in the State of Utah."
The safety he and other volunteers will offer Utah participants in the re-enactment will be a far cry from the dangerous mission the original riders faced.
"We prefer to have two people and two radio operators out in the field so nobody gets stuck out there," Hasty said, noting that while one horse and rider will leave any particular hand-off at top speeds, the other set will stay behind to cool off and load back into a trailer.
The original horse-driven mail route was anything but safe.
There were Indian wars as well as dangerous terrain that the horseback mail carriers rode head-on into, Hasty said.
But the draw for those who braved the conditions was huge.
"They were paid really well when the money came," Hasty said. "They had good horses and all the wind you could push through your hair."
In the years that the Pony Express came through Utah, Hasty said only one mochila was lost.
"The riders generally would try to outrun any problems," Hasty said. "Some stations didn't fare so well, though."
Robert Perkins, of Bountiful, rode on the Pony Express re-enactment last year but no longer owns a horse.
A great-grandson of George Washington Perkins, who rode on the real Pony Express, Perkins has enjoyed keeping his family's legacy alive through his participation.
"He was carrying a letter telling about Abraham Lincoln being elected president," Perkins said.
"He rode to one station and it was ransacked by Indians, so he kept going. He rode one horse for over 50 miles. The horse died the next day."