Pony Express Station – Gothenburg, Nebraska

pony_express_station1.jpgPony Express Station – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Certainly this time of history is something that everyone has thought of as a "romantic" adventure for the men that rode for the Pony Express.  During this time from April 3, 1860 to late October 1861 these riders were providing the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California.  The hope was to draw public attention to the central route in hope of gaining the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak express Company.

In total there were 183 men that were riders for the Pony Express during this period of just over 18 months.  They had to be young, skinny men, not over 18 and must have been expert riders.  It was said they had to be willing to risk death daily and that orphans were preferred.  Most of the riders were around 20 with the youngest of them 11 and the oldest was in his mid-40s.  The average weight was 120 pounds.

These men worked for $100 a month.  The riders traveled for between 75 and 100 miles with fresh horses being provided every 10 to 15 miles.  The speed of the horses averaged 10 miles an hour.  The mix of breeds included thoroughbreds, mustangs, pintos, and Morgans.  There were approximately 165 stations along the route of almost 2,000 miles.

The cost of a 1/2 ounce letter was $5 when the rides began but by the end of the Pony Express the price had dropped to $1 per 1/2 ounce. 

The end of the Pony Express happened on October 24, 1861.  With the outbreak of the Civil War and the lack of getting the government contract and the debt incurred by the owners the route could not be continued.

Knowing this information makes the visit to the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg even more interesting.  The Pony express Station in Gothenburg is located in Ehmen Park.  The station has items used by this era on display.  The station was moved to this location from the Upper 96 Ranch where it had been used by the Pony Express and as a stage stop.

Hours: 8 am – 8 pm during the summer and 9 – 6 in May and September.

There is another Pony Express station just four miles south of Gothenburg on the Lower 96 Ranch.  This station still stands on its original location on the Oregon Trail and is protected by a second roof.  Because it is part of the privately owned ranch it is open to visitors on a limited basis.