Pony Express
Historic Resource Study
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Chapter Four:


In St. Joseph, Missouri, there are several sites that are associated with St. Joseph Home Station area and the Pony Express National Historic Trail. They include the following:


A. Pony Express Stables: NR, 4/3/70, 70000322

The stables, located at 914 Penn Street, face Patee Park in Saint Joseph, Missouri. In 1858, Ben Holladay constructed the original pine clad building, known as the Pike's Peak Stable, to serve his transportation business to Colorado. The original stable measured 60 x 120 feet and housed approximately 200 horses. Thirty years later, the St. Joseph Transfer Company remodeled the stables after they had been damaged by fire. During remodeling, while the roof retained its original configuration and shingles, the walls were resided with brick. In 1950, the Goetz Foundation restored the building by using original roof timbers and bricks. Today, the building serves as the Pony Express Museum. [1]

B. Pony Express Monument

The monument, which stands in Patee Park in Saint Joseph across from the Pony Express Museum, was erected in memory of the birth of the Pony Express. The dedication ceremony for the monument, which occurred on April 3, 1913, included Pony Express riders such as "Buffalo Bill" (William F. Cody), "Cyclone" Thompson, and Charlie Cliff. This monument reads:

This monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the city of St. Joseph, marks the place were the first Pony Express Started on April 3, 1860—1912. [2]

C. Patee House: NR, 11/05/61, (number not available)

This hotel, built from 1856-1858 by John Patee, served as a general office for the Pony Express in 1860. The Patee House often lodged Pony Express riders and founders of the company, including William H. Russell and Alexander Majors. The Patee House is a four-story, brick, Italianate commercial style building that is handsomely decorated with brackets, quoins, pilasters, and ornamental window hoods. The building still stands at the corner of Twelfth and Penn Streets, approximately two and one-half blocks east of the Pony Express stables. [3]

D. Pony Express Statue

The Pony Express Memorial Statue stands in a park on the corner of Frederick Avenue and Ninth Street, and resembles an actual Pony Express rider with his mount. The statue was designed by Herman A. MacNeil. Since its dedication on April 20, 1940, the life-size bronze statute, weighing 7,200 pounds, has stood near City Hall and the Saint Joseph Civic Center. [4]

E. St. Joseph Ferry Site

Two steam ferries, known as the Bellemont Ferry and the Ellwood Ferry, transported travellers, including Pony Express riders, across the Missouri River from Missouri to Kansas. [5] Reportedly, the boat docked at either Jules or Francis Streets in St. Joseph. [6] A monument, located along the shoreline of the Missouri River in Hustan Wyeth Park, represents the original site of the ferry crossing. This monument reads:

On this site, April 3, 1860, a ferry carrying a horse and rider crossed the Missouri River to start a 10 day journey of 1,966 miles to deliver mail to Sacramento, California.

The race against time, elements and a hostile land captured the spirit of Americans, helped hold California for the Union and proved a central overland route was possible.

Operators William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell went broke without a government mail contract, and the telegraph replaced the daring Pony Express riders after 19 months of operation.

F. Pony Express Saddle and Mochila Monument *

This monument was recently erected at the site where the first rider reportedly departed from St. Joseph. It was dedicated on April 3, 1990, by the Western Trails Museum and Pony Express Trail Association during the 130th Pony Express Awareness Anniversary. It reads:

On April 3, 1860, the eastern Pony Express mail arrived by train. The mail was brought here, which was the site of the United States Express Company. They were agents of the famous 'Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company' who owned the Pony Express and whose offices were located at 12th and Penn Streets in the Patee House.

The mail was first put in to the four cantinas (pockets) of the 'mochila' (mo-che-la). The mail consisted of a few newspapers, 49 letters and 9 telegrams that were printed on light weight paper and also wrapped in oiled skin for additional protection.

The first Pony Express left here April 3, at 7:15 p.m. and after nearly 2,000 miles arrived in San Francisco at 1:00 a.m., on April 14. That westbound trip took 10 days, 7 hours and 45 minutes.

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Last Updated: 17-Jan-2008