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
(147)

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

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.

OUR LIGHTS ARE ON THANKS TO OUR HEROES OF SUPPORT!!A season of giving and thanks to the community of St. Joseph, includi...
11/23/2020

OUR LIGHTS ARE ON THANKS TO OUR HEROES OF SUPPORT!!
A season of giving and thanks to the community of St. Joseph, including surrounding cities and states.

Reflecting on PumpkinFest 2020, the first virtual event in the history of our museum, we must say that it exceeded any dreams of support we may have had! For 24 years, PumpkinFest funds have helped to keep the doors open for 360 days each year.

The photo contest winners were from Kearney, Bethany, Independence, and St. Joseph, MO.

The pumpkin carving contest winners were from Grain Valley, Agency, and St. Joseph, MO and Fort Pierce, FL. A great list of participants!

Our story: On November 10th, a couple was visiting our historical site and seemed to be enjoying the museum. “Could I ask where you are from?”, I said. “Georgia”, she replied. Her husband quickly added “We are heading to a wedding and made a trip to include this stop”. She said “I have wanted to come for years and we are making it a part of our trip because we’re not sure when we could be this way again. ‘Thank you’ for being open!”

Our idea since 1993 of keeping the doors open is truly a blessing to the tourists who are traveling in 2020.

We are truly grateful to all who supported PumpkinFest 2020. Much appreciation to the membership donors who have been our monthly support “Heroes”.

As we journey to the year 2021, please know we are going to continue to be “Riding Proud” and our blueprint of success remains our donors and volunteers. You are a blessing to this community!

Pony Express Quilters group enjoying their day at museum sewing.  Took time for a photo in our Pumpkinfest Showcase set.
09/22/2020

Pony Express Quilters group enjoying their day at museum sewing. Took time for a photo in our Pumpkinfest Showcase set.

08/26/2020
Pony Express PumpkinFest

Pony Express PumpkinFest

PumpkinFest 2020 will not happen on grounds at the Pony Express Museum but the PumpkinFest Committee will be offering free pumpkins, a virtual costume contest, and a virtual Pumpkin Mountain. Details to follow. Join us and watch for the lights!!!

Contact: Cindy Daffron at the Pony Express Museum, 816-279-5059 or 1-800-530-5930.
Send e-mails to: [email protected]
Pony Express Museum, 914 Penn Street, St. Joseph, MO 64503

Re-opening oguidelines. Hope to see you all soon!
05/20/2020

Re-opening oguidelines. Hope to see you all soon!

The Legend of Johnny Fry and the DoughnutJohnny Fry was very well-known in the St. Joseph area, even before the start of...
05/12/2020

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 Pon...
05/08/2020

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.”

Address

914 Penn St
Saint Joseph, MO
64503

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 11:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(816) 279-5059

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Pony Express National Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Pony Express National Museum:

Videos

Category

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.

Nearby museums


Other History Museums in Saint Joseph

Show All

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.