- This article is an itinerary.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail is a United States National Historic Trail commemorating the mail service route through the Old West, between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California, from April 3, 1860 to October 1861. It was an astonishing fact that a letter could be delivered across the 1,800 mile trail in only 10 days. Originally established in 1859 as the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express Company of 1859, in 1860 became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. As quickly as the young rider blazed a trail across half the continent, the technology replaced the ways of a horseback rider. The telegraph was able to do the same thing, faster and cheaper.
Travel along the Pony Express National Historic Trail is largely done for the historical understanding of the past, however, there can be many aspects your travels can take you to see. First is the obvious, the learning of the Pony Express. Second is the parallel stories of the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail. Finally your travels will take you along some of the most breath taking scenery. This itinerary is focused on the Pony Express, but we will take tangents when they so necessitate.
First and foremost, get maps. The modern Interstate system does not take you along the trails, they are designed for speed and efficiency. The trail was designed for a different type efficiency. That efficiency was based around not recreating the wheel. As previously mentioned, three other trails go in the general direction, and the Pony Express used the routes already established to keep expenses low.
While traveling off of the interstate, keep your bearings about you. The worst that will happen along the majority of the trail is getting turned around and having to back track to get back the right way.
This itinerary discusses a route of travel from Missouri to California. It is the most logical is beginning in Missouri traveling towards the west.
There are so many things to do and see. Monuments and markers, museums and historic buildings dot the landscape across the trail.
- 1 National Frontier Trails Museum, 318 West Pacific, Independence, MO 64050, ☎ . While this is not directly on the trail, if you are starting your trip, around the Kansas City area, this is a great site to visit to get perspective on the historical landscape.
Missouri is known for a couple of American Presidents. While here in Independence, you can see the home of President Harry S. Truman.
- 2 Pony Express Museum, 914 Penn St, St Joseph, MO 64503, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Regular Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday: 11 am to 4 pm / Winter (Dec 1 to Mar 1): Mon-Sat: 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday: 11 am to 4 pm. The Pony Express Museum is a transport museum in Saint Joseph, Missouri, documenting the history of the Pony Express, the first fast mail line across the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast. Adult $6.00, Seniors: $5.00, Students: $3.00, Under 6: Free.
- 3 Patee House.
- Rock Creek Station, Fairbury, NE.
- California Hill, Brule, NE.
- 4 Ash Hollow State Park, Lewellen, NE.
- 5 Scotts Bluff National Monument/Mitchell Pass, Gering, NE.
- 6 Chimney Rock NHS, Bridgeport, NE.
- Fort Laramie NHS/Bedlam Ruts, Fort Laramie, WY.
- 7 Register Cliff & Sand Point Station, Guernsey, WY.
- Avenue of Rocks, on Poison Spider Road west of Casper, WY.
- 8 Independence Rock, on the Sweetwater River in WY.
- Devils Gate, on the Sweetwater River in WY. (Short Hike)
- South Pass, South Pass near South Pass, WY. (Short Hike)
- Little Emigration Canyon. Little Emigration Canyon: Mormon Flat to Big Mountain, 4.5 miles 4x4 and Horse Access (extensive trail segments)
- Oregon Trail Road. Oregon Trail Road: Mills, WY to WYO-220 just north of Independence Rock, 41.5 miles (Long Hike (access to extensive trail segments))
- South Pass Segment. South Pass Segment: Independence Rock to Parting of the Ways, 125 miles (Long Hike (access to extensive trail segments)); Parting of the Ways: end of the South Pass segment
- Fort Bridger to Muddy Creek. Fort Bridger to Muddy Creek: approximately 14 miles (Long Hike (access to extensive trail segments))
- 9 National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper, WY.
- BLM Backcountry Byway. from Fairfield, UT to Ibapah, UT: 133 miles (Long Hike (access to extensive trail segments))
- 10 Fort Churchill State Historic Park, Silver Springs, Nevada. The fort protected early settlers and Pony Express mail runs, and is now maintained in a state of arrested decay.