Wednesday, August 13, 2014

P is for Pony Express Museum

It only lasted for eighteen months…the founders lost thousands of dollars…and yet you can hardly find an American history textbook that fails to mention the Pony Express--a series of riders jumping from one horse to another, racing across half a continent to deliver the mail. In terms of the Wild West, it is as iconic as Buffalo Bill –who actually was an Express rider long before he formed his rodeo show.  St. Joseph, Missouri was home to the eastern terminus of the route, where you can now find the  Pony Express National Museum.  The building is on the site of the original Pike’s Peak Stable (the wooden structure was replace in 1888 by a brick building, but they reused some of the original posts and beams).  NOTE: The Pony Express offices were in the Patee House (look—another P word) which has it’s own exhibits as well as those pertaining to the Outlaw Jesse James who died in St. Joseph.

Pony-express-joseph.jpg"Pony-express-joseph". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Pony Express was the brainchild of William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell, all three of whom were already in the business of moving freight and army supplies to the western frontier.  They proposed using swift horses and fearless riders as a means to get mail to and from the state of California (the current method being a southern stage coach route that took 25 days) but failed to secure a government contract.  The men proceeded with the plan anyway, using their own funds to build way stations, purchase the best horses, and hire riders. 

My son here wouldn’t qualify as he’s not an expert rider and more importantly his Mama wouldn’t let him go (I guess that’s why orphans were preferred).

If you visit the museum today you can see a replica of the blacksmith and leather shops to would have been needed to maintain the horses and the special letter-carrying saddle bags known as mochilas. Part of the floor is opened up to expose an archeological dig of the site.

Museum admission is $6/Adults, $3/Students, Free/Under 6.

Be sure to stop by later this week as I share more about the Pony Express with my Rescued Books Series.

I’m linking up with … Ben and Me
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Erica B said...

That is so cool - I never knew such a museum existed! I can't even imagine sending my teenager on such a job. wow. Neat post!

Bonnie Rose said...

I've always loved the history of the Pony Express!

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