Pony Express Barn
Marysville’s proud heritage features the Home Station No. 1 on the Pony Express route. Running only 19 months in 1860-61, the Pony Express has become a part of American lore.
Between April 1860 and October 1861, riders travelled 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.”
Our museum is housed in the stone barn built in 1859 by Joseph H. Cottrell and Hank Williams. In 1860 Russell, Majors & Waddell approached them to lease the barn as a livery stable for the Pony Express. Cottrell kept his blacksmith shop in the barn.
The first westbound rider left St. Joseph, Missouri on April 3, 1860, arriving in Marysville the next morning. Local sources say this was Johnny Frye.
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 that were locked. The rider would transfer the mochila from one horse to another. Two minutes were allowed for changing horses.
Costs for sending mail was $5.00 per ounce and 5 cents for each additional ounce. The rates were reduced to $1.00 per ounce later.
The demise of the Pony Express began in 1860 with the completion of the telegraph lines across the continent.
In 1991, Marysville added a museum to the original barn duplicating its architecture. The museum’s theme has been enlarged to include trails and railroads.
The National Pony Express Association sponsors a re-ride every year with over 550 riders both male and female making the ride. Each rider takes an oath similar to the original one and is issued a Bible as Russell, Majors and Waddell did to the original riders.