Pony Express National Museum

Pony Express National Museum 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 simul

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 simul

Operating as usual

Did someone say "FREE?"Free Museum Day, started by Smithsonian Magazine, is back after a year hiatus in 2020!  Come join...
09/09/2021

Did someone say "FREE?"

Free Museum Day, started by Smithsonian Magazine, is back after a year hiatus in 2020! Come join us at the Pony Express Museum as we commemorate our 160th year during our 161st year! We’re combining these two exciting events into one spectacular day on Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm.

ADMISSION IS FREE TO ALL EVENTS! You do not need a ticket.

We’ll have re-enactors scattered throughout the museum, ready to interpret the Legend and Legacy of the Pony Express. Admire the quilts made to commemorate Pony Express anniversary celebrations of the past. Watch the Piece Corps Quilt Guild demonstrate their craft, and see some of their gorgeous quilts on display in the Museum Community Room! Meet Gary Westcott, local author of Lost St. Joseph Lake Contrary and Gathering Moss. Purchase your leather goods at the Museum Gift Shop then take them to the onsite Leathersmith. For a small donation, he’ll stamp them for you!

Bring the kids to our newest acquisition, the Pony Express Event Center, located near the Museum at 1220 South 10th, formerly known as Callison Hall in the Labor Hall. Step inside and be transported back in time to 1860, when the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company (COC & PP) recruited wiry young men to take part in their latest venture, the Pony Express! Relive the 2,000 mile trail to Sacramento, California, with its hazards and adventures, and receive a commemorative Pony Express 160th Anniversary Wooden Nickel as your pay! Come early and receive a collectible First Day Cover stamped with a July 19, 1960 cancellation mark as well as one from the 160th anniversary. We regret our popular Pony School will not be open for this event.

A big thank you to our generous sponsors for helping us cover expenses for this joint event!
Commerce Bank
Hillyards

A special thank you to Missouri American Water for provisions for our wonderful volunteers!

We will zone for social distancing. Face masks are appreciated.

***Subject to cancellation as mandated by local regulation***

Did someone say "FREE?"

Free Museum Day, started by Smithsonian Magazine, is back after a year hiatus in 2020! Come join us at the Pony Express Museum as we commemorate our 160th year during our 161st year! We’re combining these two exciting events into one spectacular day on Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm.

ADMISSION IS FREE TO ALL EVENTS! You do not need a ticket.

We’ll have re-enactors scattered throughout the museum, ready to interpret the Legend and Legacy of the Pony Express. Admire the quilts made to commemorate Pony Express anniversary celebrations of the past. Watch the Piece Corps Quilt Guild demonstrate their craft, and see some of their gorgeous quilts on display in the Museum Community Room! Meet Gary Westcott, local author of Lost St. Joseph Lake Contrary and Gathering Moss. Purchase your leather goods at the Museum Gift Shop then take them to the onsite Leathersmith. For a small donation, he’ll stamp them for you!

Bring the kids to our newest acquisition, the Pony Express Event Center, located near the Museum at 1220 South 10th, formerly known as Callison Hall in the Labor Hall. Step inside and be transported back in time to 1860, when the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company (COC & PP) recruited wiry young men to take part in their latest venture, the Pony Express! Relive the 2,000 mile trail to Sacramento, California, with its hazards and adventures, and receive a commemorative Pony Express 160th Anniversary Wooden Nickel as your pay! Come early and receive a collectible First Day Cover stamped with a July 19, 1960 cancellation mark as well as one from the 160th anniversary. We regret our popular Pony School will not be open for this event.

A big thank you to our generous sponsors for helping us cover expenses for this joint event!
Commerce Bank
Hillyards

A special thank you to Missouri American Water for provisions for our wonderful volunteers!

We will zone for social distancing. Face masks are appreciated.

***Subject to cancellation as mandated by local regulation***

08/16/2021

Governor Parson to visit Pony Express National Museum Tuesday, August 17 from 2 p.m.to 2:45 p.m.

Missouri Statehood Day marks an important milestone of 200 years since the Missouri Territory became the 24th state to enter the Union. In celebration of the state's bicentennial year, the Governor and First Lady will plan to visit historical sites and communities across Missouri as part of a Bicentennial Tour from July to August. Governor Parson will visit the Pony Express National Museum at 914 Penn Street, in St. Joseph, for a community meet and greet as part of a statewide Bicentennial Tour on Tuesday, August 17 from 2 p.m.to 2:45 p.m.

During this 45 minute visit, Cindy Daffron the museum director, will speak to the significance of the location to Missouri’s history and then the Governor will speak on the bicentennial. Following, he will take a quick tour of the museum. The media and public are encouraged to attend.

Pony Express National Museum Honored as as the Top #8 Western Museum in the country by True West Magazine.
08/13/2021
Pony Express National Museum Honored by True West Magazine

Pony Express National Museum Honored as as the Top #8 Western Museum in the country by True West Magazine.

Hundreds of museums celebrate the American West (including more than a few east of the Mississippi). But True West magazine says the Pony Express National Museum of St. Joseph, MO, is one of the be…

A big THANK YOU  to LOWE’S #0305 from the Pony Express Museum and these Day Adventurers!  Your donation of cleaning and ...
08/12/2021

A big THANK YOU to LOWE’S #0305 from the Pony Express Museum and these Day Adventurers! Your donation of cleaning and sanitation supplies helps us keep the Museum clean and safe for our visitors. Because of LOWE’S #0305 generosity, we can now install sanitization stations in our Pony School, Goetz Museum, as well as our other acquisitions.

Cindy Daffron, Executive Director and the Board of Trustees

A big THANK YOU to LOWE’S #0305 from the Pony Express Museum and these Day Adventurers! Your donation of cleaning and sanitation supplies helps us keep the Museum clean and safe for our visitors. Because of LOWE’S #0305 generosity, we can now install sanitization stations in our Pony School, Goetz Museum, as well as our other acquisitions.

Cindy Daffron, Executive Director and the Board of Trustees

Join us Sunday from noon-4pm at Family Center Farm & Home Customer Appreciation Day. Come grab a hot dog and join in the...
08/06/2021

Join us Sunday from noon-4pm at Family Center Farm & Home Customer Appreciation Day. Come grab a hot dog and join in the other festivities. Donations accepted to the Pony Express Museum.

Join us Sunday from noon-4pm at Family Center Farm & Home Customer Appreciation Day. Come grab a hot dog and join in the other festivities. Donations accepted to the Pony Express Museum.

DAY CAMP DATES AND FORMAT ANNOUNCED: Click below for info and sign-up sheet. The Pony Express Museum “Day Adventure 2021...
05/24/2021
Day Camp | Pony Express

DAY CAMP DATES AND FORMAT ANNOUNCED: Click below for info and sign-up sheet.

The Pony Express Museum “Day Adventure 2021!” sessions are set for July 13, 14, and 15 from 8:30 am to noon each day. This year’s format is somewhat different from prior years’ Day Camp. We are offering three, half-day sessions, appropriate for students entering grades 1 – 5 in the fall of 2021. We are also inviting those students who were eligible for last year’s session that we cancelled due to COVID-19. All adventurers will receive a T-shirt to wear on top of their clothes. We will provide a mid-morning snack as well as all arts and crafts supplies.

Adventurers will learn 1860s songs and games, archery, make a craft, and tour the Pony Express Museum. Students will be divided into four groups: deer, bear, eagle, or elk. Groups are limited to a maximum of 12 students each. Groups will be located outside on Museum grounds or across the street at Patee Park.

The cost of the Adventure is $10.00 per student. Please go to our website www.ponyexpress.org and click on the Events tab, then Day Camp. This page provides pertinent information regarding the Adventure. You will find links to the Letter to Parents and Adventurers; Day Adventure Schedule; Day Adventure Sign-up Form; and Day Adventure Release Form. We must have the signed Release Form in order for your Adventurer to participate.

Please contact Cindy Daffron via telephone or email at (816) 279-5059, (800) 530-5930, or [email protected] for more information. We have enrollment forms available at the Museum Gift Shop. Be sure and sign up early as spots are limited this year.

As always, we have scholarships available for adventurers needing financial assistance. Please consider donating to this worthy cause through the Museum’s website: www.ponexpress.org or contacting Ms. Daffron

https://www.ponyexpress.org/upcoming-events

This year’s children’s program is for a one-half day adventure date.  Parents will select the day their child will attend.  Please see the Press Release for additional information.

05/03/2021

#PowerOfTravel

Did you know in 2019, pre-Covid, Visitors generated over $186 Million in tourism-related economic impact for Buchanan County?

Photos from Visit Missouri's post
03/25/2021

Photos from Visit Missouri's post

Family Day 2021 is virtual!  So, take a seat in your saddle (or favorite couch or chair) and follow along at www.ponyexp...
02/11/2021
History Museum | Pony Express National Museum | United States

Family Day 2021 is virtual! So, take a seat in your saddle (or favorite couch or chair) and follow along at www.ponyexpress.org to share our experiences, stories, and crafts and songs!

VISIT tab on website:
• Pony School selection: Enjoy watching a schoolmarm interacting with students just like they did back in the 1860s!
• Virtual Tour selection: Here’s Executive Director Cindy Daffron taking you through the museum on a one-hour guided interpretive tour! Chose the tour in its entirety or in four 15-minute sessions. You will learn a lot about Pony Express/American History through this tour!

LEARN tab
• Virtual Kids Programming selection: Enjoy the various activities we captured for the School Class Virtual Programming, as provided by Leah Spratt Trust.
• Pony Express Riders selection: We just updated rider list as provided by local Pony Express historian Jackie Lewin.
• Current Exhibitions:
o Hall of Riders: Listen to Executive Director Cindy Daffron and local Pony Express historian Jackie Lewin’s interpretation of this exciting exhibit!
• Permanent Collections:
o “Saving the Stables”: Watch the video of Board Members Joe Houts, Dick and Mignon DeShon and the late Carlene Makawaski tell how we saved the stables!
o Travel the Trail: Explore photos covering the 2,000 mile trail from Missouri to California as compiled by local Pony Express historian Jackie Lewin!
Credits: Don Reynolds photographer in the 1950s through all Pony Express states.

We’re so happy to share Family Day with our loyal students and patrons in 2021. We look forward to positive updates at the Museum. Please check the website regularly as changes develop!

We’d like to send a special thank you to the Education Committee and participants for their hard work on the School Class Virtual Programming in August 2020.

Come visit the Museum’s Gift Shop! We received new merchandise, ready for you to take home: crafts, projects, and books and all sorts of items related to your virtual Family Day Experience. We look forward to seeing you in person!

We miss those big hugs from all our children!

The Pony Express Museum is a transport museum in Saint Joseph, Missouri, documenting the history of the Pony Express, the first fast mail line across the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast.

Announcing the final session of Tuesday Night Talks (TNT) “Reruns” will be presented Feb. 16th. The topic will be “St. J...
02/05/2021
History Museum | Pony Express National Museum | United States

Announcing the final session of Tuesday Night Talks (TNT) “Reruns” will be presented Feb. 16th. The topic will be “St. Joseph’s Role in Western Migration” presented by Jackie Lewin, local historian and authority on the Pony Express.

The Pony Express Museum is preparing for its 22rd year of presenting Tuesday Night Talks (TNT). The Program has become a popular, educational, in-person event for the community in January and February through the years.

Much like other annual get-togethers in 2020, COVID is changing up our 2021 TNT program. This year we are offering a virtual event, revisiting crowd favorites of the past five years specially selected by our TNT Chairman Joe Houts. Just as in the past, the audience may hear authors, historians, and lecturers on a wide range of topics. Instead of visiting the museum in person, the audience may view any or all of the six speakers on our website, www.ponyexpress.org at their convenience in the comfort of their homes. This format allows us to share these special events with the world, for the first time in its history!

Please visit our website for information and updates on when to look for these classic sessions. We look forward to all getting together again in 2022 to resume our normal format. In the interim, please come see us at the museum to revisit favorite exhibits and look for new, exciting additions.

Please contact Cindy Daffron via phone or email should you have any questions. Enjoy!

TNT 2021 Virtual Speaker Schedule

Jan 12 “The Pony Lady” - Carlene Makawski

Jan 19 “Remember the Sultana” - Alicia Lee Scott

Jan 26 “25 Days by Stage: The Overland Mail Company 1858 – 1861” - Marianne Babal

Feb 2 “They Stole Teddy Roosevelt’s Boat” - Gregg Hatten

Feb 9 “Dust in the Wind” - Jim Lehr

Feb 16 “St. Joseph’s Role in Western Migration” - Jackie Lewin

(The above TNT sessions will be available on our website through March 31, 2021)

2021 TNT Sponsored by Commerce Bank

The Pony Express Museum is a transport museum in Saint Joseph, Missouri, documenting the history of the Pony Express, the first fast mail line across the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast.

Join us online tomorrow for a new virtual Tuesday Night Talk:“They Stole Teddy Roosevelt’s Boat” by Gregg HattenAll pres...
02/01/2021
Tuesday Night Talks | Pony Express

Join us online tomorrow for a new virtual Tuesday Night Talk:

“They Stole Teddy Roosevelt’s Boat” by Gregg Hatten

All presentation can be viewed here: https://www.ponyexpress.org/tuesday-night-talks

The Pony Express Museum is preparing for its 22nd year of presenting Tuesday Night Talks (TNT).  The Program has become a popular, educational, in-person event for the community in January and February through the years.  Much like other annual get-togethers in 2020, COVID is changing up our 2021 ...

Tuesday Night Talks goes Virtual!
01/13/2021
Tuesday Night Talks goes Virtual!

Tuesday Night Talks goes Virtual!

The Pony Express Museum is preparing for its 22rd year of presenting Tuesday Night Talks (TNT). The Program has become a popular, educational, in-person event for the community in January and Febr…

Old West Photos and More
12/10/2020

Old West Photos and More

The Pony Express. Boys putting their lives on the line, riding for the mail

Gold was discovered in California in 1848, thousands of prospectors, investors, and businessmen made their way to California. In 1850, California entered the Union as a free state. By 1860, the population had grown to 380,000. The demand for a faster way to get the mail and other communications to and from the west coast state became even greater as the Civil War approached.

William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell were the three founders of the Pony Express. They were already in the freighting and drayage business and they held government contracts for delivering army supplies to the western frontier. Russell, Majors, & Waddell organized and put together the Pony Express. By using a short route and mounted riders rather than traditional stagecoaches, they proposed to establish a fast mail service between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, with letters delivered in 10 days. In two months in the winter of 1860, they assembled 120 riders, 400 horses, and established around 180 relay stations that were about 10 miles (16 km) apart along the Pony Express route.

The stations were often fashioned out of existing structures, several of them located in military forts, while others were built anew in remote areas where living conditions were very basic. At each station stop, the express rider would change to a fresh horse, taking only the mail pouch called a mochila (Spanish for pouch or backpack) with him. The employers stressed the importance of the mochila. They often said that, if it came to be, the horse and rider should perish before the mochila did. The mochila was thrown over the saddle and held in place by the weight of the rider sitting on it. Each corner of the mochila had a pouch, or pocket. Bundles of mail were placed in these pouches, which were padlocked for safety. The saddle tree and mochila weighed around 20 pounds (9kg) and could hold 20 pounds of mail. Riders, who could not weigh over 125 pounds (57 kg), changed about every 75–100 miles (120–160 km), and rode day and night. The riders received $100 a month as pay. A comparable wage for unskilled labor at the time was about $0.43–$1 per day.

The Paiute War took place from May through June 1860. It consisted of a series of raids and ambushes against intruding settlers coming into the Paiute Indian territory in Nevada. About 6,000 Paiutes had suffered during a winter of fierce blizzards that year. By spring, the tribe was ready to embark on a war. A raiding party attacked Williams Station, a Pony Express station located on the Carson River near present-day Lake Lahontan. One account says the raid was a deliberate attempt to provoke war. Another says the raiders had heard that men at the station had kidnapped two Paiute women, and fighting broke out when they went to investigate and free the women. Either way, the war party killed five men and the station was burned. Seven other express stations were also attacked; 16 employees were killed, and around 150 express horses were either stolen or driven off. The Paiute War cost the Pony Express company about $75,000 in livestock and station equipment, not to mention the loss of life. In June of that year, the Paiute uprising had been ended through the intervention of U.S. government troops, after which four delayed mail shipments from the East were finally brought to San Francisco on June 25, 1860.

During its brief time from April 1860 to October 1861, the Pony Express delivered about 35,000 letters between St. Joseph and Sacramento, only once did the mail not go through. The Pony Express announced its closure on October 26, 1861, two days after the transcontinental telegraph reached Salt Lake City and connected Omaha, Nebraska, and Sacramento, California. Other telegraph lines connected points along the line and other cities on the east and west coasts.

See more old west history come alive in photos and occasional artifacts at page "Old West Photos and More" and like our page for weekly posts from the historical Dale Collection and other sources.

Address

914 Penn St
Saint Joseph, MO
64503

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm
Sunday 11am - 4pm

Telephone

(816) 279-5059

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Preserving the legend and the legacy

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.


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Comments

This isn't necessarily about the Pony Express Museum but I thought it might be of some interest. This is an old postcard with a view of the central section of St. Joseph. The postage cancellation stamp on it is dated April 12, 1949. My mother was from St. Jo and while she and my father were visiting her parents, she sent this postcard to a close friend who lived in Washington, NC where I live. On the reverse side it says it's showing a portion of the business district. In the center is City Hall and the Million Dollar Civic Center. It also says St. Jo was the 3rd largest city in Missouri with a population of 83,000 people. O
2018 Pony Express Re-ride 6-25-18 South of Evanston, Wyoming Please visit my page for more photos.
Pony Express Museum, St. Joseph, Mo. Travel USA, Mr. Peacock & Friends, Hidden Treasures
Rejuvenation Treatment in progress for a Wyeth saddle on display at the Pony Express National Museum. This saddle is in need of some nourishment and this will extend its life on display!
Pumpkinfest 2017
Going tomorrow cant wait.
Hi. I sent a message too... are the t-shirts "where two trails cross" available for order? I saw them on the news!
Fun times at the museum today!
Central States Leather Guild is so honored to have Pony Express National Museum as our new meeting home! We look forward to being your leather conservation and preservation team. Thanks so much for having us! We had a great meeting today and can't wait to begin work on your leather treasures.
My wife and I enjoyed our visit to the museum on May 13, 2017. The Aldermans Lakeland FL
We had a great time morning especiallyin the kids hands on area. Unfortunately, we were in such a hurry get in to the museum we forgot about our luggage on the roof. One of our duffle bags (pink one) was grabbed so if you an abandoned pink bag around your building please think of me.