Sunday, October 28, 2012
Pony Express Museum - October 24, 2012
The Kansas City Power & Light Power Partners retirement club visited the Pony Express Museum on our monthly outing in October. The museum is located just south of the downtown area of St Joseph, Missouri. I believe that around 40 people participated in the tour. Here are a few photos from the visit.
The horse shoes are mostly from supporters of the museum. However, one of the shoes is an original from the Pony Express days.
The Pony Express route stretched from St Joseph to Sacramento, CA. Typical times fro delivered mail from the East Coast to the West Coast had been about 4 weeks. The Pony Express cut that time down to 10 days.
The service used 400 horses and 184 stations along the route. Stations were 10 to 20 miles apart depending on the terrain. Riders switched to a fresh horse at the stations as quickly as possible. They blew a bugle to announce their pending arrival so the station manager could have the new horse ready to go. The rider grabbed the mochila (mail pouch) from one horse and put it on the new horse as he mounted it. Riders would work 10-12 hour shifts without stopping. Occasionally, they had to do a back-to-back and would ride for 20 hours straight....talk about saddle sores. Riders averaged about 10 miles per hour across the entire route.
Riders were paid $25/week which was big money in those days. The average worker only got paid $1/week at that time. A letter cost $5 at the beginning of operations and then dropped to $1 after operations settled in. That was still too expensive for most people to afford in the day. In today's dollars, that $1 letter would cost $24. William Cody (Buffalo Bill) was the most famous of all the riders.
Riders were only allowed to weight about 125 lbs so a 40 lb load of mail and other necessities like water and rifles would not be too much for the horse to carry.
The Express operated from April 3, 1860 to October 1861. At that time, telegraph communications were established eliminating the need for the Pony Express. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and opened up communications with the west for greater volumes of mail.
A recreated transfer station.
A Pony Express saddle with the mochila mail pouch.
A nice Louisiana style lunch at Boudreaux's followed the tour.