The Pony Express has huge appeal today, even though it operated for only 18 months. Between April 1860 and October 1861, riders travelled day and night through all weathers to carry letters from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California and back. The one-way trip usually took 10 days. Riders changed horses every 12 to 15 miles, and rode 75 to 100 miles before turning the mail over to a fresh rider at one of the 40 or so “home stations” along the route.
The home station in Marysville, a stone barn built by Joseph Cottrell in 1859, was leased to the Pony Express in 1860. The barn is still standing and is now a museum. The riders probably slept at the nearby Barrett Hotel, located where the Ar-Ex Drug Store is today.
The first westbound rider left St. Joseph, Missouri early in the evening of April 3, 1860, arriving in Marysville the next morning. Historians differ as to his identity, but local tradition says his name was Johnny Fry.
The mail was carried in a special leather saddle cover called a mochila, which fit over the saddle and could not be removed unless the rider dismounted. It had four mail pockets called cantinas, which were always locked during the ride. The rider took the mochila off one mount and quickly put it over the saddle of the next. Two minutes were allowed for changing horses.
Sending mail by Pony Express was very expensive. The original charge was $5.00 an ounce and 5 cents for every additional ounce. Later the charges were reduced to $1.00 per ounce.
In 1860 the telegraph was completed across the continent, providing a cheaper and much quicker method of communication than letters carried by fast pony. The Pony Express came to an end, but its legend and legacy live on.
The museum in Marysville’s Home Station No. 1 consists of the original stable, now the oldest building in Marshall County, and an annex added in 1991 which matches it in architectural style. The museum’s theme has recently been extended to include trails and railroads, emphasizing Marysville’s wider historic importance as a transportation hub.
Pony Express Re-RideIn June of each year the National Pony Express Association sponsors a Pony Express Re-Ride from Sacramento, CA to St. Joseph, MO. Each year they alternate the direction of the Re-ride, traveling East or West. Over 550 riders and horses are posted at intervals to take turns carrying the mail. Each rider will take an oath similar to that of 1860-1861 and be issued a Bible in the tradition of Russell, Majors and Waddell. A community welcome is sponsored by the Marysville Chamber of Commerce.
For tours or information contact the Museum during the operating season at 785-562-3825 or the Marysville Chamber of Commerce at 785-562-3101.
Hours April – October Opening April 1, 2017 Monday – Saturday – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday – 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. July 4th Hours – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Contact us at: 106 South 8th Street, Marysville, KS 66508 785-562-3825 Open by Special Appointment Call 785-562-3101
Marysville Chamber & Main Street 785-562-3101 101 N. 10th St. • Hwy 77 & 36 Junction • Marysville, KS 66508 [email protected]