On April 3, 1860, a lone rider left on horseback from one of the nation’s most historic landmarks, the Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, Missouri. Today the stables continue to stand as a tribute to the legend and legacy of the Pony Express and its enduring era by housing the Pony Express National Museum. Founded by William Russell, William Waddell and Alexander Majors, the Pony Express was driven by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. A relay of men on horseback carried saddlebags of mail across 2,000-miles from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California. Eventually, the Pony Express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost.
The service lasted 19 months until October 24, 1861, when the Pacific Telegraph line was completed, ending the need for its existence. The museum encapsulates the romantic and drama of the Pony Express and the Wild West. After an informative movie providing an excellent background and understanding of the Pony Express, guests find themselves at the very doors that swung open and a lone rider began the first journey west just as a second rider headed east from Sacramento. Racing against time, and fighting the elements and rugged terrain, these men and other riders helped unite a country separated by distance.
Life-size figures depict the historic event and other exhibits help explain life on the frontier and in St. Joseph at the time of the Pony Express. A covered wagon and typical wilderness relay station, where riders would change horses, are also depicted in the museum. Maps illustrate the seemingly impossible trail these young men rode to make sure the nation was connected by communication.
The museum is located at 914 Penn Street in St. Joseph and is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.; and closed Thanksgiving Day, December 24, 25, 31 and January 1. For more information call (816) 279-5059 or check the website at http://www.ponyexpress.org For information about other attractions in St. Joseph, check the website at http://www.stjomo.com.