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Pony Express Stations - Page 4

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Division Two - Fort Kearney, Nebraska to Horseshoe Creek, Wyoming

Division Two of the Pony Express Trail stretched from
Fort Kearny, Nebraska to Horseshoe Creek Station, Wyoming. This division extended through western Nebraska, a short ride through Colorado, returned to Nebraska, then into eastern Wyoming. It crossed the High Plains toward the Rocky Mountains and included more than 30 stations along the route. This route of the Pony Express was also the same as the Oregon-California and Mormon Trails.

 

Nebraska (continued):

Pony Express and Telegraph Lines

The Pony Express was running while the telegraph lines were

 being built. From a Painting by George M. Ottinger, appeared

 in Harper's Weekly, 1867.
 

Seventeen Mile/Platte Station - In 1859, the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company established a stagecoach station at Seventeen Mile Station to serve as the first stop for passengers after Fort Kearny. When the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express assumed control of these stations and started the Pony Express, it is likely that they made the Seventeen Mile Station a relay station on the route. It was thought to have been located about five miles southeast of Odessa, Nebraska.


Garden Station -
The exact identity and location of this site remains unknown. Historians have listed it as six miles southwest and six miles southeast of Elm Creek. It has also been called by several names including

Shakespear's, Sydenham's Ranche, Biddleman's Ranch, and Platte Stage Station. The 1861 Overland Mail Company contract listed the station as Garden. In 1865, the station was destroyed by fire.


Plum Creek Massacre MarkerPlum Creek Station - Thought to have been located about
ten miles southeast of Lexington, Nebraska, sources generally agree that this was a relay station. The site also featured Daniel Freeman's trading post. In 1859, the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company listed Plum Creek as a stop on its route. Later, the station's log structures housed a Pony Express station and stage stop, and even later a telegraph station. Indian attacks on wagon trains and stagecoaches, including the Plum Creek Massacre, between 1864 and 1867 led to the establishment of a small garrison of troops at Plum Creek Station. Sometime after August, 1867 the station was burned and abandoned. However, a cabin from the Plum Creek Pony Express Station may be seen in the city park in Lexington, Nebraska.

 

About five miles south of the station occurred the Plum Creek Massacre, on August 8, 1864. Here, warriors attacked a Denver-bound wagon train, killing 13 men and captured a woman and a boy. Although the cemetery commemorates the victims, they were actually buried elsewhere. The Plum Creek Massacre site and cemetery are located about five miles south of Overton, Nebraska.

 

Willow Island/Willow Bend Station - This station was located approximately six miles southeast of Cozad, Nebraska in Dawson County. The original cabin, built about 1849, was first located on the south bank of the Plate River south of Darr and used as a trading post. Later, it was moved and known as Willow Island Station and was used as a stage and Pony Express station. In 1866 the station's structures included an adobe house, stables, and a frame store. Billy Campbell and Melville Baugh both were riders on this portion of the trail. Decades later, the Dawson County American Legion Post No. 77 purchased the station's original log cabin and moved it to Cozad Park. Today, the Robert Henry Museum and Walkway commemorates the artist career of the town’s native son and preserves several historic buildings including the Willow Island Pony Express Station.

 

 

Midway Ranch Station, NebraskaCold Water/Midway Ranch Station - The Cold Water Ranch/Midway Station site was probably located four miles south of Gothenburg. Sources generally agree on its identity as a Pony Express and stage station, although opinions vary about its function as a relay or home station. Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company stages stopped at Cold Water, located between Plum Creek and Cottonwood Springs. Frank Root, an Overland Mail Company messenger in the 1860's, noted the station's name (Midway) came from its central location between Atchison and Denver. In 1863, David Trout managed station operations at Midway Station, also known as Heavy Timber, Smith's East Ranch, Pat Mullaly's Home Station.

Questions arise about the possible existence of one of Cold Water Ranch/Midway's log structures. Located four miles south of Gothenburg, a
sturdy log cabin sits on the Lower 96 Ranch, which is said to be an original Pony Express building. The Oregon Trail Memorial Association recognized this building with a Pony Express bronze plaque, and a second bronze marker noted Pony Express rider Jim Moore's emergency trip from Midway to Julesburg, Colorado on June 8, 1860, during a time of Indian unrest. There is some dispute as to whether this is actually a station, as one witness in 1866 claimed to have seen Indians burn the station. Despite this apparent contradiction in the history of this structure, the cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open to visitors on a limited basis.

 

Gilman's Station - There is some confusion on the exact location of Gilman's Station. Decendants say the the station was located on what was called the Pump on the Prairie road ranch. Most sources generally agree on the identity of Gilman's Ranch as a relay station and a stage stop listed on the 1861 mail contract.
 

Machette's Station (Gothenburg) - The identity and location of Machette's Station remains controversial. Local tradition places the site on the Williams' Upper 96 Ranch, four miles east of Fort McPherson in Lincoln County, Nebraska. Up until 1931, there was a two-story log cabin and a blacksmith shop linked to this site. However, in 1931 the American Legion Post No. 64 dismantled the main two-story log structure from the original site and moved the log building to the Ehman Park in Gothenburg, where it was reassembled into a one-story building. Tourism signs along the highway advertise the building as an original Pony Express station. A marker attached to the building tells visitors that Sam Machette built the cabin in 1854 as a trading post and ranch house, that the Pony Express used it from 1860-1861, and that it served as an overland stage station, dwelling, bunk house and storage house on Upper 96 Ranch afterwards. Other researches believe this cabin was part of a trailside road ranch on a route once used by the Pony Express; but, it was not an actual Pony Express Station. The structure is now used as a Pony Express Museum.


Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska markerCottonwood Springs Station - The Cottonwood Springs Pony Express station site is thought to have been located about two miles west of Fort McPherson. The station, also known as McDonald's Ranch and Box Elder, also served as a stop for the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express Company stage line. The June, 1860 census states that a man named John North was the station keeper for the Pony Express Company.

 

In 1864, author and soldier, Eugene F. Ware described a two-story log structure at Cottonwood Springs, which could have served as the site of Cottonwood Station. In 1865, Lieutenant Colonel Sigreaves of the U.S. Army Engeineers Topographical Corps, sketched the area around Fort Cottonwood (Fort McPherson), showing a stage and telegraph office about two miles west of the post. Later this site was called Pete Burk's Ranch.

 

Cold Springs Station - This site, which served as a relay station for the Pony Express, is thought to have been located near Box Elder Creek, two miles south and one mile west of present-day North Platte, in Lincoln County, Nebraska. The station was listed on the 1861 Overland Mail Company contract. Some historians note confusion between Cold Springs and Jack Morrow's Ranch, also called the Junction House, which was located twelve miles from Cottonwood Springs.
Fremont Springs Station - This site is possibly about 1.5 miles south of Hershey, Nebraska. Sources generally agree on its identity and location as a home station and stage stop. Other sources place its location about 5.5 miles southeast of Sutherland in Lincoln County. In late 1860, the English traveler Richard F. Burton described the station's unique architecture in this way: "The building is of a style peculiar to the south, especially Florida—two huts connected by a roofwork of thatched timber, which acts as the best and coolest of verandahs."

O'Fallon's Bluff/Dansey's/Elkhorn Station - In 1859, the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company utilized this station and identified it as O'Fallon's Bluffs, and therefore it is logical that its successor, the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company, also used the station for the Pony Express. O'Fallon's Bluff Station was probably located about two miles south and four miles west of Sutherland. Situated just west of the bluffs named for Indian agent Benjamin O'Fallon, the station appeared in the 1861 Overland Mail Company contract as "Dansey's." This name, a corruption of "Dorsey" or "D'Orsay," who may have been the station keeper. Besides O'Fallons Bluffs and Dansey's, sources give the station a variety of other names, including Half Way or Halfway House, and Elkhorn. Today, an interpretive area sits off eastbound I-80 at a rest area. Here, the interpretive park tells the story of the Great Platte River Road and visible wagon traces can still be seen.


Alkali Lake Station - Many historical resources link Alkali Lake Station with the Pony Express. The Alkali Lake Station site was possibly located two miles southwest of Paxton, in Keith County, Nebraska. Sources generally agree on its name as Alkali Lake though, in the 1861 Overland Mail Company contract, the station was unnamed. It was thought to have been a home station.

Gill's/Sand Hill Station - Little is currently known about the Gill's/Sand Hill Station site. This site is reportedly in Keith County about one and one-half miles south of Ogallala, Nebraska. The 1861 Overland Mail Company contract identified the site as Gill's, while other sources called it Sand Hill Station.

Diamond Springs, NebraskaDiamond Springs Station - The site of Diamond Springs Station was located about a mile west of Brule, in Keith County, Nebraska In 1859 the firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell constructed this Pony Express station on a low terrace overlooking the South Platte River After the Pony Express ceased operation in 1861, Diamond Springs was a stage and freight station under the ownership of Ben Holladay. The station was closed in the wake of Indian attacks along the Platte valley in 1864-65, but reopened briefly until the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1867 rendered stage travel obsolete.  In 1931, a man named O. H. Hinrichs visited the station site and noted several trenches that indicated the outline of a rectangular stockade. Glass telegraph insulators found at the site suggest that the station later served as a telegraph station as well. Today the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A monument sits on the south side of U. S. 30, .9 mile west of Brule. The text of Nebraska Monument reads: "Diamond Springs .8 mile southwest."

Beauvais Ranch Station - Following a career with Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company, Geminian Pierre Beauvais established his own trading post in 1849 on the South Platte River near California Crossing. Beauvais traded with Indians and white travelers and was reported to have one of the best equipped ranches on the Overland Trail. The ranch included log houses, a sod storehouse, and several shops. The ranch remained popular in the 1850s and 1860s as a fording area on the South Platte River. The ford had several names, including Upper Crossing, which the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company listed as a stage stop. Some resources assert that it did not function as a Pony Express station, unless it operated as U.S. Mail Station. During Indian raids along the Platte in 1864-65, Beauvais was used by the First Nebraska Cavalry as a base of operations for this portion of the westward route. A barracks was constructed to house the troops and a fortification erected. The ranch was abandoned when the Union Pacific Railroad reached the vicinity in 1867. Today it is an official archeological site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Continued Next Page

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