- Historic Sites
Pony Express Historic Travel Guide
1. Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco
Located in the still-active 1852 Wells Fargo Bank building, the two-floor museum contains one of Abbot Downing & Company's 18-seat Concord stagecoaches, which carried settlers, mail, and supplies to California in the 1860s. Exhibits also include nuggets mined during the California Gold Rush and original Pony Express stamps.
2. Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Sacramento
This 700 square-foot museum occupies one room in the 1853 B. F. Hastings Building, which once housed the first permanent offices of the state supreme court, the westernmost terminus of the nearly 2,000-mile-long Pony Express route, and California's first two telegraph companies. Exhibits currently include a replica mochila, a lightweight covercumailbag easily tossed over a Pony Express rider's saddle, and original letters and envelopes.
3. Folsom History Museum
In April 1860, the first Pony Express rider took 10 days to travel between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Folsom, California. Following Wells Fargo's July 1861 takeover of the express, the town replaced Sacramento as the route's western terminus. Today the original offices have been converted into a 2,600-square-foot museum of Folsom's past and feature original baskets, beads, an acorn grinding stone used by the Maidu Indians, gold panning equipment, interpretive stages on the Pony Express, and an original mochila saddle bag.
4. El Dorado County Museum
El Dorado, CA
This 5,000-square-foot museum contains baskets and tools made by skilled artisans of the Maidu, Miwok, and Washoe peoples, a sheepherder's covered wagon, a restored Victorian-era parlor from a fine home, a turn-of-the-century General Store, and a Concord Stage Coach. Outdoor exhibits include a five-stamp mill used to crush rock, a large flywheel powered by a steam engine ore cars, and antique chain saws.
5. Fort Churchill
Silver Springs, NV
During the Pyramid Lake War against the Paiute Indians, the U.S. Army established this fort 1.5 miles northwest of the Buckland Station Pony Express depot. Although abandoned in 1869, the fort's crumbling adobe fortifications remain. The onsite visitors center explores the history of the Paiute Indians, the triple murder that launched the war, life at the fort, and the exploits of Pony Express riders who delivered mail to and from the nearby station.
6. Sand Mountain Recreation Area
Located just off U.S. 50, 25 miles east of Fallon, Sand Mountain, a two-mile-long sand dune, overlooks the stone-walled Sand Springs Pony Express station, little changed since the express passed through here 150 years ago. On the trail of the express in 1860, British Explorer Sir Richard F. Burton described this station as "cumbered here and there with drifted ridges of the finest sand, sometimes 200 feet high and shifting before every gale."
7. Northeastern Nevada Museum
Adjoining this 40,000-square-foot museum is an original log cabin Pony Express station, relocated from Ruby Valley and containing displays of saddles and equipment. Other exhibits include the Halleck bar, once part of a Salt Lake City saloon 20 miles east of the museum, copies of 24 first-edition books by western novelist Will James, and hundreds of artifacts such as a cooking pot used on the California trail, rifles, and clothes.
8. Simpson Springs
Located miles south of Tooele, the old mail station, established in 1858 and later incorporated into the Pony Express route, features two reconstructed stone buildings from the mid-1800s. Within the site are unidentified rock remains of what might have been a tent foundation or animal pen. A campground lies just to the east of the site.
9. Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn
Built in 1858 and located across the street from the Camp Floyd Commissary, an important military post during Pres. James Buchanan's anti-polygamist Utah Campaign, the two-story adobe Stagecoach Inn was the easternmost stop on the Overland Stage Line that linked Atchinson, Kansas to Fort Bridger, Wyoming, and also a Pony Express depot. Restored in 1959, the adobe inn contains period frontier furnishings.
10. Fort Bridger
Fort Bridger, WY
Established by mountain men Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez in 1843 as an emigrant supply stop along the Oregon Trail, the fort later became a Mormon supply base until seized by the U.S. Army in 1857. Visitors can see a reconstructed trading post and an interpretive archaeological excavation of the cobbled rock wall built by the Mormons. The 1888 stone barracks building contains a newly renovated museum featuring hundreds of artifacts and modern information kiosks on the Shoshone Indians, the Utah War, and the construction of the Lincoln Highway.
11. South Pass City
South Pass City, WY
In 1867 disillusioned California 49s returned east and stumbled upon a gold vein in the South Pass region, up until then a primary crossing point for emigrants, explorers, and Pony Express riders traversing the Continental Divide. The boom town sprouted up 10 miles south of the pass and today is a state historic site featuring 45 reconstructed historic structures and displays featuring more than 30,000 artifacts dating from 1868 to 1910. Visitors may tour several merchant shops, restaurants, a hotel, the historic Carissa gold mine, and a restored 1898 saloon, complete with period furnishings and decorations. The pass itself, just a short trip away is a National Historic Landmark with interpretive markers and views of the expansive plateau.
12. Fort Caspar Museum
Established in 1857 as a trading post and North Platte River crossing, this site later became a Pony Express station, and from 1862 to 1867 served as a U.S. army fort. Today the park contains a 3,000-square-foot museum, a section of the 1,000-yard wood bridge that once spanned the river, and reconstructed enlisted men's barracks, officer's quarters, commissary, and blacksmith's shop. Historic artifacts include period rifles such as an 1857 .50 caliber Smith carbine and an 1860 Spencer repeating carbine and colt pistol.
13. Scotts Bluff National Monument
Located at the south end of the 3,000- acre park, which encompasses the 800-feet-tall bluff overlooking the North Platte River, the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center contains exhibits on western expansion, geology, and the world's largest collection of works by William H. Jackson, the renowned photographer of Yellowstone. Visitors can drive or hike the 1.6 miles to the summit of Saddle Rock for views of the badlands and the North Platte River Valley.
14. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
This 80-acre national historic park contains the 470-foot Chimney Rock, the landmark that once marked the end of the plains and the start of the rugged Rocky Mountains. A 5,000-square-foot visitors center, located a mile south of the junction of highways 26 and 92, contains interpretive displays and a 15-minute film on the emigrants who passed by the rock on their way to California.
15. Pony Express Monument
Located near the Fort Sedgwick and Depot museums (the latter being a 1930s Union Pacific Railroad depot), the stone monument memorializes the lone Pony Express station in Colorado. The museums contain a collection of local historic artifacts such as early buggies, barbed wire, rifles, cannon, swords, and saddles.
16. Gothenburg Pony Express Station
Two Pony Express Stations stand in Gothenburg, the "Pony Express capital of Nebraska." Relocated in 1931 from its original position 12 miles west of town, the Sam Macchette relay station houses a museum featuring photographs, a reproduction Bible given to Pony Express riders, and original pioneer tools and cooking utensils. Onsite interpreters are available during the season to explain the history and significance of the Pony Express. Four miles south of town stands the Midway station on its original foundations. Part of a private ranch, it is open to visitors by appointment.
17. Fort Kearny State Historic Park
Built in 1847 to protect Overland Trail travelers, the fort served as a stage station, then a Pony Express depot, and a military outfit during the Indian Wars. Visitors may tour reconstructed buildings, including the stockade, parade grounds, and blacksmith shop. An onsite interpretive center contains stages describing the fort's history.
18. Harold Warp Pioneer Village
This 20-acre complex comprises 28 restored and operational historic buildings including Webster County, Nebraska's first log cabin, a Guilded Age railroad depot, and an authentic Pony Express barn and station, which feature model horses and original and replica saddles. The 22,400-square-foot, two-story main building contains a vast collection of antique American cars, farm equipment, and artwork, including 23 William H. Jackson paintings, and the world's largest collection of John Rogers statues.
19. Rock Creek Station
This 1858 station served as an important supply stop for emigrants along the Oregon-California Trail. Two years later the station became a designated relay station for the Pony Express. Visible to the northwest of the old station site, are the 1,600-foot-long trail ruts of 19th-century wagon pioneers.
20. Hollenberg Station
In 1857, German immigrant Gerat H. Hollenberg built a six-room log cabin on Cottonwood Creek, as a way station for westward travelers, reserving the loft for exhausted riders during operation of the Pony Express. A quarter mile from the cabin, which is the only remaining original, unaltered Pony Express station, sits a new visitors center featuring interpretive and hands-on exhibits on period clothing and details about the life of a Pony Express rider.
21. Marysville Pony Express Barn
This 1859 stone barn was leased to the Pony Express in 1860 and remains the only home station on its original site. The barn contains antique wagons, a blacksmith shop, and the original vent holes for the horses. The modern limestone annex, added in 1991, contains replicas of original stagecoach, Marysville's first post office, and interpretive stages describing the 18 months of the Pony Express's operation.
22. Pony Express National Museum
St. Joseph, MO
This 10,000-square-foot museum, built in 1858 as a stable for 200 horses, now features displays on the Pony Express, including a 60-foot diorama that illustrates the nearly 2,000 mile route. This spring the museum will also reopen its original forge and bellows in which blacksmiths crafted horseshoes, stirrups, and other riding equipment. Hands-on exhibits include a working water pump that dates back to the stables' initial construction and is connected to a 21-foot deep well.
23. Patee House
St. Joseph, MO
This 1858, four-story, luxury hotel, became the headquarters for Pony Express founders Russell, Majors, and Waddell. In 1882 the brick, 140-room structure again gained notoriety when it became the headquarters for the official investigation into the murder of outlaw Jesse James. Today the house contains a museum of communications and transportation. Visitors can stroll down the "Streets of Old St. Jo," view the dentist office of Dr. Walter Cronkite, father of the television news commentator, and see the Buchanan County jail gallows, an 1860 Hannibal & St. Joseph locomotive and railway mail car invented to speed the mail on the Pony Express.
24. Lexington Historical Museum
Built in 1846 as a Presbyterian church, this museum of local Lexington history, which features Pony Express art and memorabilia, also contains Civil War-era photographs, rifles, swords, as well as cannon balls fired during the Battle of Lexington.
25. Pony Express National Museum
St. Joseph, MO
This 10,000-square-foot museum, originally built in 1858 as a stable for 200 horses, now features displays including a 60-foot diorama that illustrates the nearly 2,000-mile route. In Spring 2010 the museum will reopen its original forge and bellows, in which blacksmiths created horseshoes, stirrups, and other riding equipment. Hands-on exhibits include a working water pump that dates back to the stables' initial construction and is connected to a 21-foot-deep well.
26. Patee House
St. Joseph, MO
This 1858, four-story, luxury hotel, became the headquarters for Pony Express founders Russel, Majors, and Waddell. In 1882 the brick, 140-room structure again gained notoriety when it became the headquarters for the official investigation into the murder of outlaw Jesse James. Today the house contains a museum of communications and transportation. Visitors can stroll down the "Streets of Old St. Jo," view the dentist office of Dr. Walter Cronkite, father of the television news commentator, and see the Buchanan County jail gallows, an 1860 Hannibal & St. Joseph locomotive and railway mail car invented to speed the mail on the Pony Express.
27. Lexington Historical Museum
Partners in the firm of Russel, Majors and Waddell, who founded the Pony Express, had their office in Lexington, one of the most populous and prosperous cities west of St. Louis before the Civil War. At the peak of operations, they had the government contract to supply all military posts in the West and shipped freight using some 500 wagons and 7,500 oxen. William H. Russell lived here across from his partner, William Bradford Waddel, whose home still stands on South Street. The Lexington Historical Museum, located in an 1857 Cumberland Presbyterian church, features Pony Express art and memorabilia as well as artifacts from the Civil War "Battle of the Hemp Bales" and other local history.