Before the advent of the
Pony Express, the railroads and telegraph lines extended no
further west than St. Joseph, and mail traveled west by stagecoach and wagons, a
trip that could take months, if it arrived at all. The
Pony Express alleviated this problem with riders who could
dramatically reduce the amount of time it took for the mail to be
Pony Express is credited with helping to keep
California in the Union by providing rapid communication between the
two coasts. News of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the United States
presidency in 1860 and of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861
California via the
Pony Express dramatically improved the communication between the east
and west, it was a financial disaster for its owners.
After the Pacific Telegraph Company completed its line to
San Francisco in October,
1861, the company declared bankruptcy and closed down.
By the 1870s,
St. Joseph had become
the wholesale center for the building of the West, which led to an age of
prosperity. Numerous businesses were located in the city and beautiful
mansions were built.
St. Joseph his home,
hiding behind the alias Tom Howard. However, life was not to be a
long and happy one for
St. Joseph. Just three months later on April 3, 1882 Bob Ford shot
in his home.
In 1886, the Chicago Times
reported that "St. Joseph is a modern wonder - a city of 60,000
inhabitants, eleven railroads, 70 passenger trains each day, 170
factories, thirteen miles of the best paved streets, the largest
stockyards west of Chicago, a wholesale trade as large as that of Kansas
City and Omaha combined..."
In 1887, St. Joseph became the second city in the United
States to have electric streetcars. Two years later, the city hosted
the New Era Exposition, in hopes of being chosen as the site for a future
World’s Fair. A disastrous fire destroyed much of the fair, caused
financial ruin for its major backers and ended any hope of attracting a
By the turn of the century, the rush to
the west was virtually over but St. Joseph had already established itself as a
major livestock and wholesale market.
Today, the city is called
home to almost 77,000 residents and provides numerous historic attractions
including several museums and numerous beautiful historic buildings and
of America, updated November 2013.