106 South 8th, Marysville, KS 66508
NOTICE: THE PONY EXPRESS MUSEUM IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON DUE TO COVID-19.
Summer Months (April – October):
Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Winter months: By Appointment Only
Marysville’s proud heritage features the Home Station No. 1 on the Pony Express route. Despite running just 18 months, the Pony Express has become a part of American lore.
Between April 1860 and October 1861, riders traveled day and night through all conditions to carry letters from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, and back. This usually took ten days with riders changing horses every 12 to 15 miles. Each rider would ride 75 to 100 miles before turning the mail in a mochila over to a new rider at one of the 40 “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. Cottrell kept his blacksmith shop in the barn. The barn is still standing and is now a museum. The riders likely slept at the nearby Barrett Hotel, located where Ar-Ex Drug Store is today.
The first westbound rider left St. Joseph, Missouri early in the evening on 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 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 its architectural style. The museum’s exhibits have been expanded to include trails and railroads, emphasizing Marysville’s wider historic importance as a transportation hub.
In 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. More than 550 riders and horses are posted at intervals to take turns carrying the mail. Each rider takes an oath similar to the riders in 1860-1861 and is issued a Bible in the tradition of Russell, Majors and Waddell, the operators of the Pony Express.