Pony Express
Historic Resource Study
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Chapter Four:



The Rock House Station, which was located in Jefferson County, served as a stop for stagecoaches, Pony Express riders, and weary travelers. [63] The Rock House Station was situated about three miles northeast of Steele City, where the Oketo cut-off merged with the main route. [64] Bishop and Henderson identify this first relay station in Nebraska as Rock House on their map of the Pony Express trail, while other sources suggest Caldwell and Otoe as alternative names. [65]


Sources generally agree about the identity of this site as a relay station, but they do not concur about its exact location. [66] In 1859, David McCandles or McCanles erected a toll bridge and log structure, which later served as the relay station, on the east side of the creek. The hewn-log building had an outside-accessible attic and stone fireplace and measured 36 feet long, 16 feet wide, and 8 feet high at the eaves. [67] The Rock Creek Station has an interesting history. Historians associate the site with a controversial gunfight between David McCanles and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok on July 12, 1861. When the fight ended, three men were dead, and Hickok and Horace Wellman (Williams), the stationkeeper, faced murder charges. A judge later acquitted both men. [68]

Alternative names and/or sites for the station include Turkey Creek, Pawnee, and possibly Elkhorn and the Lodi Post Office. [69] Stagecoaches, such as the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company, stopped at or near the station. Rock Creek was listed as a scheduled stop for the company. [70] Today, the site is part of the Rock Creek Station State Historical Park, three miles northeast of Endicott, in Jefferson County. An Oregon Trail and Pony Express marker lies near the park entrance. [71] Reconstructed station buildings by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also stand within the park. [72]


This site is located four miles north of Fairbury, in Jefferson County, Nebraska. Other names for the station include Grayson's and Whiskey Run. [73] Bishop and Henderson identify the station as Virginia City on their "Map of California- Oregon-Mormon Emigrant Roads Featuring the Pony Express 1860-1861," as does trail historian Gregory M. Franzwa. [74] Lone Tree possibly served as an alternate station site, one mile south of Virginia City. [75]


This site is reportedly about three miles east of Alexandria, in Jefferson County. Sources generally agree about its identity as a Pony Express station, with stagecoaches stopping there as well. [76] Dan Patterson owned and operated the site as a home station until 1860, when he sold it to Asa and John Latham. History also associates the Daniel Ranch, a post office, and the Ed Farrell Ranch with the Big Sandy Station. [77]


This site, known as Millersville or Thompson's, is about two miles north of Hebron, in Thayer County. [78] George B. Thompson acted as the stationkeeper for Pony Express operations at this station, and the station was named after him. [79] As late 1960, Nebraska Monument No. 11, erected in 1912, stood near the site, about five miles southwest of Alexandria, on the east side of the county road. The text read: "Thompson's Stage Station, 125 rods West, 23 rods South." [80]


This site is reportedly about ten miles northwest of Hebron, in Thayer County. Kiowa served as a stop for both the Pony Express and for both the L. & P.P. Express Co. and C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. stagecoaches. Jim Douglas managed the station operations. [81] Sources generally agree on the identity of this station. [82]


Sources disagree about the identity and location of this site in Nuckolls County, Nebraska. According to the 1861 mail contract with the Overland Mail Company, an unnamed station existed in the area. Several sources identify the station as Little Blue, but Mattes and Henderson suggest that Little Blue existed later as a separate stage station, four miles northwest of Oak Grove. [83]

Several sources identify the unknown station as Oak Grove, located about one and one-fourth miles southeast of Oak, Nebraska. [84] Al Holladay managed this station, which reportedly had a "Majors and Waddell" store next to it. Ranchers in the area included Roper, Emory, Eubank, and E. S. Comstock, whose land carried the name of Oak Grove Ranch. [85]


This site is generally acknowledged to be located on the north bank of the Little Blue River, a half-mile northeast of Deweese, in Clay County. [86] In 1859, 0. Allen, in his Guide Book and Map to the Gold Fields of Kansas and Nebraska mentioned Liberty Farm as a U. S. mail station. Allen stated it was at the "Jct. of Ft. Riley Road 19 miles from Oak Grove, U. S. mail station No. 12, 1 1/2 miles east of this place." [87] Sources generally agree on its identity as a Pony Express home station, and that it was then managed by James Lemmons and Charles Emory. [88] L. & P.P. Express Co. and C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. stagecoaches also stopped at Liberty Farm. [89] In 1864, Indians burned the station while J. M. Comstock served as stationkeeper there. The Pawnee Ranch assumed station activities after Liberty Farm burned. As late as 1960, Nebraska Monument No. 26 marked the site of Liberty Farm, and Nebraska Monument 26 1/2 identified the junction of the Fort Riley Road mentioned by Allen in his travel guide. [90]


This site may have been positioned in Clay County. [91] Since the 1861 mail contract did not list Spring Ranch as a stopping point, the positive identification of Spring Ranch as a Pony Express station remains controversial. Its location between two known distant stations, Liberty Farm and Thirty-Two Mile Creek, would have made Spring Ranch a convenient place for riders to change horses. [92] A number of other sources identify this station as Lone Tree, a relay station and stage stop. [93]

Gregory Franzwa lists Spring Ranch and Lone Tree Station separately. A town called Spring Ranch existed in the 1860s, as well as the Spring Ranch stage station. Indian raids apparently destroyed the station in August 1864. An Oregon Trail marker identifies the station site on the east side of the county road going north to Highway 74. [94]


This site is probably about six miles southeast of Hastings in Adams County. Many sources agree on its identity and location as a stage stop for the L. & P.P. Express Co. and C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. and as a relay station for the Pony Express. [95] George A. Comstock served as stationkeeper of the long, one-story building, named after the distance between it and Fort Kearney. In August 1864, Comstock abandoned the station, which Indians later burned to the ground. [96]

Today, the National Register of Historic Places designates the station's location as an historic archaeological site. [97] In 1960, a small, numberless Nebraska Monument stood near the edge of the site. The text read "Dinner Station, I.O.O.F.E., Pony Express." [98]


This site is probably located one and one-half miles south of Kenesaw. [99] Franzwa suggests "probable" and "possible" sites for Sand Hill or Summit Station. [100] Sand Hill and Summit remain the most popular names for this probable relay station and stage stop, but sources also identify it as Water Hole and Fairfield. [101] Mabel Loving and Roy Bloss refer to Fairfield as the next station after Summit (Sand Hill). [102] However, Mattes and Henderson suggest that the Fairfield, identified by Pony Express rider William Campbell, is the same as Sand Hill or Summit. 103]

Franzwa places the "probable" station site near Summit Springs, which suggests the origin of one of its well-known names. The nearby sandy wagon road gave the station its other name of Sand Hill. Apparently, in 1864, the station was destroyed by Indians and ended all stagecoach use of the station. [104]


This site was presumably located one and one-half miles northeast of Lowell in Kearney County and for a time served as a relay station for the Pony Express. [105]

Even though Bishop and Henderson list Kearney Station separately from Hook Station, [106] a number of authors use a variety of names to describe the same station including Hook's, Hook's Station, Hook's Ranch, Kearney Station, Dogtown, Valley City, Valley Station, Junction City, Hinshaw's Ranch, and Omaha Junction. [107] Whichever name is associated with this station, M. H. Hook managed the station operations at the site. This station was the last one under the jurisdiction of St. Joseph-Fort Kearney Division Superintendent E. A. Lewis. [108]

26. FORT KEARNEY: NR, 7/2/71, 71000485

Since Fort Kearney was a stage stop on the L. & P.P. Express Co. and C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. lines, it is likely that Russell, Majors, and Waddell also used this site as a Pony Express station. [109] Other sources list Fort Kearney as a station or stopping place for Pony Express riders. [110] Mattes and Henderson express doubt that Fort Kearney ever served as an official Pony Express station. Privately owned businesses were not granted space on U.S. military bases. However, Pony Express riders possibly stopped at Fort Kearney to service the mail needs of the military. [111] The fort saw a lot of traffic from the military and riders possibly made stops at the sod post office, built in 1848. Mattes and Henderson suggest Doby Town (Kearney City), about two miles west of the fort, as a more likely location for the station. The site is located about five miles southeast of Fort Kearney, on the right bank of the Platte River. [112]

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Last Updated: 17-Jan-2008