Re-opening oguidelines. Hope to see you all soon!
Come and experience the exciting, educational and state-of-the-art exhibits conveying the creation, operation and termination of the legendary Pony Express
The Pony Express was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail. The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours. The pony riders covered 250 miles in a 24-hour day.
Re-opening oguidelines. Hope to see you all soon!
The Legend of Johnny Fry and the Doughnut
Johnny Fry was very well-known in the St. Joseph area, even before the start of the Pony Express. Being rather cute, he was also a favorite amongst the ladies. His popularity increased even more when he started riding for the Pony Express, especially since he was the first rider to head out from St. Joseph!!
As you can imagine, a lot of girls along the trail wanted his attention. Some tried to give him snacks and cakes as he rode along, but Johnny said, “No time to stop, ladies! The mail must go through!” He tried to grab the cakes as he rode by, but the food just crumbled in his hands.
Still the girls persisted, until one day, as the legend goes, one of Johnny’s fans who lived near Troy, Kansas, came up with a brilliant idea! She would bake a pastry with a hole in the middle! Johnny could then just grab the pastry like a brass ring at a county fair! Sure enough, the next time Johnny rode through, he was able to hook the pastry with his thumb and forefinger and enjoy the sweet treat!
This pastry with a hole in the middle is now known as the Doughnut!! So in honor of this unknown, yet intrepid girl & her devotion to Johnny Fry, raise your doughnut pieces in salute & enjoy!
*The original Johnny Fry below along with the Pony Express Museums re-enactor of Johnny Fry.
Here's a little literary knowledge for y'all on this beautiful day.
PONY BOB’s LONG RIDE
Soon after the start of the Pony Express, the fame of its riders spread throughout the country. Although young and small in stature, their image became larger than life. Adventure, danger, and hardship were all in a day’s work for these brave and reckless young men. Of all the heroes who rode for the Pony Express, the greatest would have to be Robert Haslam, affectionately known as "Pony Bob." He epitomized the bravery, resourcefulness and skill of the Pony Express rider. He was the most-storied rider, having been credited with making both the longest uninterrupted ride (round trip) and the fastest ride (he participated in the record-breaking feat of transmitting the written copy of Lincoln’s first inaugural address from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in seven days and seventeen hours) during the brief duration of the Pony Express.
Robert Haslam was born in London, England in 1840 and as a teen, immigrated to the United States with his family. He made his way to Salt Lake City, Utah where he worked on a ranch and as a government messenger. He was at home on a horse. He was loyal, brave, and committed to getting the job done. Pony Bob fit the model for what a Pony Express rider should be.
In 1860, he was 20 years old when he was hired by Bolivar Roberts (Pony Express Division Superintendent) to help build stations. During the inaugural run of the Pony Express – 3 April 1860 – he rode from Deep Creek to Ruby Valley. Later he was assigned the run from Friday’s Station (Nevada State Line, Lake Tahoe) to Buckland’s Station, 75 miles to the east.
Haslam’s much-celebrated run began on 10 May 1860, when he received the eastbound mail at Friday’s Station. This was at the very start of the Pyramid Lake Indian War when Pony Bob was headed towards Buckland’s Station. (As a little background: silver had been discovered in the area of western Nevada, known as “Washoe.” There was a “Rush to Washoe” influx of miners similar to the California Gold Rush of 10 years earlier. It was in full swing by the spring of 1860. At the same time, on April 3, 1860, the Pony Express started operation through this region. Then, in May of 1860, the Pyramid Lake Indian War started when Williams Station east of Buckland’s Station was attacked by the Paiute Indians.) In spite of the fact that Indian attacks were expected, Pony Bob started his route – and soon found himself riding right into trouble.
Pony Bob took his normal route to Buckland’s Station. He left Carson City and reached Reed's Station on the Carson River without mishap. But at Reed's there was no change of horses. Every available man and horse was gathered for use in the campaign against the Indians.
He went on without a relay down the Carson River to Buckland’s Station. This was to have been the end of Pony Bob's run. Here, his relief rider – Johnson Richardson – was so badly frightened over the Indian threat that he refused to take the mail. Even the station master, W. C. Marley, could not persuade the rider to proceed. Then, in desperation, he offered to pay Pony Bob an extra $50 if he would take Richardson’s route. Haslam agreed to take the mail all the way to Smith Creek/Smith’s Station for a total distance of 190 miles without a rest.
Within ten minutes Pony Bob was in the saddle again. He rode 35 miles to the Carson Sink, through the deep sand hills and an alkali bottom. He switched horses and covered the next 30 miles to the Sand Springs Station. At Cold Springs he got another fresh mount. At Smith’s Creek Station, Bob turned the pouches over to an Express rider named J. G. Kelley.
After a rest of nine hours, he retraced his route with the westbound mail, in essence turning around and heading right back! For the ride back, he personally selected his horse - a wily mustang named Old Buck, who had a reputation for sensing the presence of Indians. Pony Bob had very good reason for caution. There were numerous places along his route where hostiles could lie in ambush.
At Cold Springs he found that Indians had raided the place, killing the station keeper and stealing all of the stock. He raced onward. Just short of the next station, Old Buck’s ears suddenly twitched and the horse snorted. Alerted, Pony Bob gave Old Buck his head. At that very moment, a small band of Paiute warriors burst from cover. The Paiutes rained arrows on him and Old Buck to no avail – they were out of range and moving fast. Unfortunately, Old Buck had already run at a good pace for miles. Ordinarily, the Paiute mustangs wouldn’t have been able to match any Pony Express horse, but these warriors had stolen express ponies. Pony Bob couldn’t outrun them this time.
Soon after the start of the Pony Express, the fame of its riders spread throughout the country. Although young and small in stature, their image became larger than life. Adventure, danger, and hardship were all in a day’s work for these brave and reckless young men. Of all the heroes who rode for the Pony Express, the greatest would have to be Robert Haslam, affectionately known as "Pony Bob." He epitomized the bravery, resourcefulness, and skill of the Pony Express rider. He was the most-storied rider, having been credited with making both the longest uninterrupted ride (round trip) and the fastest ride (he participated in the record-breaking feat of transmitting the written copy of Lincoln’s first inaugural address from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in seven days and seventeen hours) during the brief duration of the Pony Express., he traveled about 383 miles in 36 hours – the longest trip on record for the Pony Express.
It was growing dark. Haslam rode to Sand Springs and told the agent the fate of the Cold Springs stop. After getting a fresh mount, both he and the Cold Springs agent rode to the Sink of the Carson. They found the men there nervous for they had seen a band of fifty Indians, armed and in war paint, scouting the vicinity. Bob rested at the Sink for an hour. Then he continued the ride to Buckland’s. After all these trials, Pony Bob arrived only three and a half hours behind schedule. He found Superintendent Marley at Buckland’s Station. When Bob told him the news of the Cold Springs massacre, Marley raised Bob’s bonus to one hundred dollars. Afterwards, it was found that during the night Haslam had ridden straight through a ring of Indians who were headed in the same direction. He continued to Friday’s station, his original starting point. In the end he traveled about 383 miles in 36 hours – the longest trip on record for the Pony Express.
Years later he remembered that record-breaking ride this way: “I was rather tired, but the excitement of the trip had braced me up to stand the journey.”
Visit St. Joseph, Missouri
Calling all Jigsaw Puzzle lovers...do you have what it takes? Try our new St. Joseph virtual jigsaw. We'll have a new one each week on Thursdays. Let us know how long it took you to complete!
160 years ago, this was express mail. It was much slower and much more expensive that what we have today, but the method of delivery was one that still keeps it in the history books as one of the great accomplishments of taming the west. bit.ly/PonyExpress2ac Pony Express National Museum
ON APRIL 3, 1860,
A lone rider left on horseback from the doors of one of the nation’s most historic landmarks-The PONY EXPRESS STABLES in St Joseph, Missouri. April 3, 2020 marks the 160th year that the saddlebags filled with our nation’s hopes and dreams traveled 2,000 miles west to Sacramento, California, carried by the young riders. These brave young souls raced against nature’s cruel elements and rugged terrain in an attempt to unite a country separated by distance. In 2020, this nation faces social distancing and the Pony Express National Museum wishes to salute our brave doctors, nurses, emergency responders and everyone helping to unite this country in the coming months. A special celebration is planned for a later date.
Pony Express National Museum's cover photo
Yesterday, the Pony Express Museum held its annual Free Family Day. In addition to seeing the museum, the community room was packed with craft projects for kids to make and take. We saw 1,180 people come through for the day. This is only possible because the Pony Express National Museum volunteer base is the BEST! Thanks to everyone who helped out!
Pony Express National Museum's cover photo
Made With Uncommon Character, St. Joseph, MO
Stories of the Pony Express permeate St. Joseph, but we like the uncommon ones the most. Read more about what happens when a Cyclone 🌪️ Buffalo 🤠 and Bronco 🐎 come together along with the scores of young men who made history riding for the legendary Pony Express…
"No other subject captures the imagination and also speaks to the impact that the city of St. Joseph had on a national stage than the saga of the Pony Express. In this era of modern transportation, it still seems an impossible idea to travel by horseback to Sacramento, California in a mere ten days. Now imagine that concept in 1859 when the world was definitely a much bigger place. The young riders who rode those stretches of lonely prairie faced dangers from gopher holes to hostile Indians. Without a doubt, the most famous of all of the riders was William F. Cody who went on to fame and fortune as Buffalo Bill Cody with his Wild West Show. But scores of other young men rode for the Pony Express. To honor those individuals and commemorate the Pony Express, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the City of St. Joseph dedicated a monument in 1912 in the park directly across the street from the livery barn that had housed the horses used for the mail runs - The Pony Express National Museum today. The postcard pictured here, which dates from the 1920s, shows the monument along with three former Pony Express riders. This image was actually taken in 1914 for a dedication ceremony of the monument where former riders Buffalo Bill Cody, Charlie Cliff and Charles Thompson were present. The discrepancy between the date on the monument and the date of the event was due to Cody’s travel schedule with his Wild West Show.
Volumes are written about the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, but comparably little is written about Charlie Cliff and Charles Thompson. Cliff rode the route between St. Joseph and Seneca, Kansas and at some point in his life became known as Bronco Charlie Cliff. He lived his life in St. Joseph and operated a feed and flour store. Charles Thompson’s career with the Pony Express was brief. He worked for a month as a substitute rider for Johnny Fry when Fry was too ill to make his portion of the run. When the war between the states began, Thompson served as a Confederate soldier in Virginia and eventually moved back to Northwest Missouri after the war. He later worked as the head janitor at the Buchanan County courthouse where he earned the nickname of ‘Cyclone’. It seems that after an argument with a county court judge, the judge called Thompson ‘windy’. To that Thompson replied, ‘Judge, you come outside with me and I’ll show you a cyclone.’ It would seem that a cool nickname goes hand in hand with being a rider for the Pony Express even if it does come much later in life.”
Postcard and commentary courtesy of Cole Woodbury.
Pony Express National Museum's cover photo
Countdown has begun! It is time for Pumpkinfest! We have been busy carving pumpkins and getting ready for this weekend! Pumpkinfest starts on Friday, October 11th at 5:00 P.M. The lighting of the mountain is planned for around 8:00 P.M. (or when dark). Pumpkinfest ends Sunday, October 13th at 5:00 P.M. Looking forward to seeing everyone!
Pony Express PumpkinFest
PumpkinFest made the list! Thanks Country Living Magazine!
Free Museum Day | Smithsonian Day at the Pony Express National Museum on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Contact: Cindy Daffron, Executive Director
Pony Express National Museum
Smithsonian Day, Sat., September 21, 2019, at Pony Express National Museum, 914 Penn Street, St. Joseph, MO 64503.
FREE ADMISSION. Re-enactors will be presenting history at the Museum and Pony School during these hours: 10:00 A.M – Noon and 1:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Museum hours: 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Phone: 816-279-5059. Visit website:www.ponyexpress.org. Email: [email protected]
Cindy Daffron says to” join re-enactors for a visit through the era of the Pony Express and spend time in the1860’s Pony School with a Schoolmarm”. Come see the newly restored George Gray “Platte Purchase Mural” that once graced the wall of the Hotel Robidoux’s Pony Bar’N.
For information on other museums offering free admission September 21, go to stjomo.com/museums..
On April 3, 1860, a lone rider left on horseback from the gates of one of the nation’s most historic landmarks, the Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, Missouri. Carrying saddlebags filled with our nation’s hopes and dreams, the Pony Express riders traveled 2,000 miles west to Sacramento, Californ...
Save the date!
Save the date for the 2019 Pony Express PumpkinFest. Entertainment line-up coming soon! Check http://ponyexpresspumpkinfest.com for updated info.
Financial assistance from the St. Joseph Visitors Bureau.
Recently, The Pony Express National Museum unveiled the Platte Purchase Mural. This mural, which graced the Pony Bar’N of the historic Hotel Robidoux for over 30 years, is the work of famous artist George Gray.
Peggy Van Witt, Conservator, cleaned, restored and reframed the mural. She is the only independent Conservator in the state of Kansas. The Mural depicts the Platte Purchase of the six Northwest Missouri Counties of Platte, Andrew, Buchanan, Holt, Nodaway, and Atchison from American Indian Tribes in October 1837. The purchase price was $7,500, along with other promised items.
Visit the museum to see the "new" mural in all its colorful glory!
Learn about how local historians and lovers of the Pony Express saved the stables in St. Joseph.
Nick & Sarah’s Travels
Pony Express Museum and Jesse James Murder House *way catchier name than “Jesse James Home”...
Hey! That's US!
"This iconic building is recognizable the world over as the home of the Pony Express. However, no one who ever worked for the firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell to carry the mail from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California in 1860 and 1861 would recognize the building as it looks today. Originally the building, which was named the Pike’s Peak Stables, was a wood frame structure. The brick exterior was actually an alteration added in 1888. Despite the history of the building, it was not always honored for its connection to the westward expansion of our nation.
Prior to it becoming a museum in about 1950, the building had been used by a number of different businesses through the years. These businesses ranged from a radiator shop to a mattress manufacturing company. Over time, the building fell into such disrepair that the back half of the building had to be removed. The circa 1909 postcard visible here shows the building at its full length. When the Pony Express National Museum opened its doors, the building was about half this size. After a second restoration in 1993, the building was returned once again it’s original size.
The business of transporting the mail across 2,000 miles of wilderness by horseback proved to be a financial disaster for the owners. However, the investment made by M. Karl Goetz and the Goetz Pony Express Foundation, as well as the citizens of St. Joseph, the Chamber of Commerce, and the the St. Joseph Museum, Inc. has proven to be a huge success in preserving this important and unique piece of our country’s history."
Postcard and commentary courtesy of Cole Woodbury.
914 Penn St
Saint Joseph, MO
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The Pony Express was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail.
The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours. The pony riders Annual Pony Express Re-Ride covered 250 miles in a 24-hour day.
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 only 19 months until October 24, 1861, when the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line ended the need for its existence. Although California relied upon news from the Pony Express during the early days of the Civil War, the horse line was never a financial success, leading its founders to bankruptcy. However, the romantic drama surrounding the Pony Express has made it a part of the legend of the American West.
No event In American History has captured the imagination of young and old alike, more than the excitement created by those young riders and their horses, as they rode across the western half of our continent.
Come and experience the exciting, educational and state-of-the-art exhibits conveying the creation, operation and termination of the legendary Pony Express and its riders. Whatever your age, you’re sure to be captivated by the stories and images of an era long passed.