As the West expanded in the 1840s with events like the Oregon Trail and the Gold Rush people flocked to the unknown of the west, receiving a letter was a big deal in the 1800s. This expansion was great but journeying into the unknown came with zero established communications. How would people travel east to west fast enough to be able to spread information in time? William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell created a relay system that spread from Missouri to California, about 1,966 miles, in just 10 days. This was the fastest and most practical way to be able to spread information quickly. The original names were Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express company but was later known as the Pony Express Station. This relay system that started in 1860 had stations along a direct route through eight states. At each station, a rider and horse would be waiting. Once one rider arrived at a station, the rider waiting would then take the mail and travel to the next station. Passing it along until it reached its destination. The riders for the stations had certain requirements and most of the riders were only 100-125 pounds to keep the horse’s load light.
Though the Pony Express was only operational for about 18 months, until the telegraph station took over, it became well known and is still a solid part of the communication history today. Here at Pioneer Village an original Pony Express Station has been restored so you can see it as what it would’ve looked like in all its glory. Along with it, is a replica of an original Pony Express Barn complete with model horses, historic saddles, and items dug up at Fort Kearney. Some of these saddles include an original Pony Express Saddle and one of the four unique original Buffalo Bill Cody Saddles made in Omaha, NE. Buffalo Bill Cody’s house and museum are not too far located in North Platte and would be a great day trip!
Obtaining the Pony Express Station took a while as Harold Warp tried a couple times to get it from Bridgeport, Nebraska where it was originally a Pumpkinseed relay station for the Black Hills. In 1953 Harold offered $100 for it but was turned down as the town of Bridgeport planned to restore it and create a park around it. After 2 years, they reached back out to Pioneer Village by mail and asked if they would still take it for the original price offered. In Sister Clara’s letter, she quoted Harold who said, “Get it right away before they change their minds again.” Apparently, it was going to be a while before Bridgeport would be able to add a park and they hadn’t been able to restore it at all within the last 2 years. For these reasons it was given to Pioneer Village for just $100!
They spent a lot of time restoring it and filling it with authentic antiques from that time. They poured a foundation for it to sit on first just east of the church in the famous Circle at Pioneer Village. It was Harold who suggested this, and it stuck! They also redid the roof and added new shingles to it on a day Sister Clara deemed beautiful. Once the Relay Station was restored, they also built an authentic barn to go beside and complete the look.
Come visit Pioneer Village to see this truly historical site with a complete Station and Barn. In it see how the riders on the Pony Express lived and how the horses lived too! Ride into the 1860s by stepping into this original building!