Long ago, young men mounted on their horses and carried mail from the Midwest to the Pacific Coast in roughly a week and a half. This system of relays between Missouri and California, known as the Pony Express, was the quickest and most practical method of communication at the time. In January of 1860, a team of men worked tirelessly to bring to life the Pony Express. The route would include over 100 stations, between 400-500 horses and enough riders to make the trek from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California. The cost was an estimated $70,000.
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Beginning the evening of April 3, 1860, the initial delivery began in Missouri amid great excitement. Several dignitaries were present for the first leg of the ride, and at 7:15 pm the cannon fired, and the rider and his horse took off toward the next station.
The Pony Express used 75 horses to make the one-way trip to the West Coast, providing new horse every 10-15 miles and fresh rider every 75-100 miles. Speeds averaged near ten mph.
Roughly ten days later, around midnight on April 14, 1860, the mail pouch made its way and was delivered to San Francisco via the Pony Express. Until the widespread use of the telegraph in 1861, the Pony Express remained a popular method of communication.
Points of Interest
The journey along the Pony Express route offers a few favorite stops along the way. Visitors will have plenty of options along the way, whether it’s a place to relax and refresh or a spot to learn more about the historic Pony Express route.
This twelve room, two-story lodge was built by George Guittard to offer accommodations as the influx of visitors continued to increase. It was an inn for guests to relax, an outpost to buy and sell supplies and water, a livery to shelter livestock, and provided wagon and coach repairs. In 1860 it became a relay station on the Pony Express route. Its two stables housed over twenty horses as fresh steeds were made available for the riders.
Dry Creek Station
Dry Creek Station was founded in the Spring of 1860. This stop served as a home station, and even after the transcontinental telegraph put an end to the glory years of the Pony Express, the station remained a stop on the Overland Mail Company stage line.
Creek Station was one of the original stops along the Pony Express route and was completed in the spring of 1860. It stayed in service until November 1861 as a telegraph station and stopping point for the Overland Mail Company.
Popularly known as Grubb’s Well, this relay station was built in July 1861, splitting up the distance between Robert’s Creek and Dry Creek stations. As the telegraph began its ascent and the Pony Express wanted, the station was also used as a stop along the Overland Mail Company route.
Constructed less than five months before the demise of the Pony Express in July of 1861, Sulphur Springs station was known as a place to relax between Diamond Springs and Robert’s Creek Stations.
Things to Do
The Pony Express National Historic Trail overs several options for enjoyment, including the Annual Re-ride, visiting museums, and auto-touring. All the attractions are sure to entertain and educate anyone wanting to attend the fascinating ride into the past.
Every year, those that are members of the National Pony Express Association jump on their horses and repeat history as they follow the trail from Missouri to California. Hundreds of riders participate in this annual trek over the course of ten days and two thousand miles.
Places to Go
Along the Pony Express are select sites that offer more information on the trail and its history. Some sites offer museums, interactive displays, and commemoration of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Visit places like:
• Simpson Springs - Tooele County, Utah
• Rock Creek Station - Fairbury, Nebraska
• Pony Express Stable - St. Joseph, Missouri
• Marysville Pony Express Barn - Marysville, Kansas
• Hollenberg Station - Hanover, Kansas
• Fort Churchill - Silver Springs, Nevada
• Fort Casper - Casper, Wyoming
• Camp Floyd - Fairfield, Utah
• B.F. Hastings Building - Old Sacramento, California
Eating and Sleeping
A variety of options for food and lodging are available for guests along the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Many portions of the trail run through smaller towns or cities, while some visit less populated areas.
National Trails Intermountain Region Pony Express National Historic Trail Santa Fe, NM 87504