1,996 miles in 10 days. This sign is supported by an Interpretive Grant from Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area. Visit www.freedomsfrontier.org for more information.
A daring horseback relay mail service connects the nation.
The Vision of the Pony Express
In January 1860. William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell, right, (partners in the freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell) agreed to start a pony relay system from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The idea was to speed up the delivery of mail from the eastern United States to California. The distance between these cities was 1,996 miles.
The company's goal was to deliver the mail in 10 days, in all types of conditions, and prove the Central Route could be used year-round. The company hoped to win the $1,000,000 government mail contract. Within just three months, the men had secured funding and formed the Central Overland, California and Pikes Peak Express Company. They had hired 200 riders and purchased 400 horses for the venture.
The Route and the First Ride
There were 165 stations approximately 10 miles apart. The rider changed horses at each station. Each rider rode between 75-100 miles. A rider changed horses 8-10 times per ride.
St. Joseph (April 3, 1860 7:15pm)
Johnny Fry departs from these Pony Express Stables.
Sacramento (April 4, 1860 2:00am)
Sam Hamilton leaves
Sacramento, heading east.
"...citizens paraded the streets with bands of music, fireworks were set off... the best feeling was manifested by everybody."
New York Times, April 14, 1860 on the first delivery of mail.
The stable used by the Pony Express was built in 1858. Measuring 60" x 120", it was constructed with a pine frame and a wooden split shingle roof. In 1887, the structure's appearance changed dramatically, when the St. Joseph Transfer Company built brick walls inside the wooden walls and tore the wooden walls down.
Other businesses used the building, including a mattress company and a roofing company, but both companies failed and the building fell into disrepair. Finally, in 1946, the Chamber of Commerce interceded and purchased the building. Unfortunately, though, the rear section of the stable had collapsed, shortening its length.
In 1959, M. Karl Goetz stepped forward and made it his mission to save, restore and turn the Pony Express Stable into a museum. Mr. Goetz owned the M. K. Goetz Brewing Company and established the Goetz Foundation for the building's ongoing preservation. In 1959, the Pony Express Museum opened its doors. In 1992, the museum underwent an extensive reconstruction and expansion. The Pony Express National Museum re-opened on April 3,