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Few images are a more iconic representation of St. Joseph than the Pony Express monument. The intrepid rider and his horse galloping westward is found on countless post cards. If you are looking for the perfect place to take a picture in St. Joseph – this is it! Located in a small triangle at the intersection of Francis and 10th Streets is a memorial to the Pony Express, which was a mail delivery service that operated from April 3, 1860 to October 1861. Mail was carried by men riding fast horses on a route that began here in St. Joseph and ended in Sacramento, California. The memorial consists of a large bronze sculpture of a rider on his horse atop a stone base inscribed with the words "The Pony Express." Artist Hermon A. MacNeil created the sculpture. The memorial is surrounded by a short metal fence and there is a bench for people for people to sit on. The memorial was dedicated on April 20, 1940, the 80th anniversary of the Pony Express.

The Pony Express Memorial was erected in 1940, the eightieth anniversary of the Express' founding.

The Pony Express Memorial was erected in 1940, the eightieth anniversary of the Express' founding.

This is the iconic image of St. Joseph!

Horse, Plant, Sky, Cloud

The Pony Express served an important purpose: it further connected California, which was granted statehood in 1850, to the rest of the country before construction of the transcontinental telegraph was completed in October 1861. It was a much faster service than stagecoach travel, reducing the time it took for mail to travel east and west to around ten days.

The service was established by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell, who were already experienced in the shipping industry. There were numerous stations on the route and riders could travel between 70-100 miles per day. There were two kinds of stations: those where riders could quickly switch horses and those where riders could eat a meal and stay overnight. Needless to say, the stations were a critical part of the service. 

In 1938 the City of St. Joseph decided to erect a monumental statue commemorating the Pony Express in a triangular plot in City Center Park. The city used a Public Works Administration grant of $28,620 and a public bond issue of $35,000 to fund the project. Hermon Atkins MacNeil was chosen to create the larger than life-sized bronze monument. MacNeil initially created a plaster model in his studio in New York, before casting the bronze. The Roman Bronze Works in Long Island, New York did the bronze casting. The finished sculpture stands 12 feet tall and weighs 7,200 pounds. The completed monument was unveiled on April 18, 1940.

 Since then, the Parks Department has taken responsibility for the maintenance of the monument and the surrounding landscape. As it is such an iconic representation of St. Joseph, several civic organizations have contributed to keeping the site attractive.

"A Brief History." National Park Service - Pony Express National Historic Trail. Accessed February 3, 2019.

Convention & Visitors Bureau. Pony Express Monument. March 13, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2018.

“For Memorial Plan,” St. Joseph News Press, June 5, 1938.

“Reader Wants Data on Downtown Statue,” St. Joseph Gazette, Sept. 11, 1981.

“Local Citizens Take Interest in Pony Express Monument,” St. Joseph News Press, March 22, 1992.

Marshall White, “Statues Offer Glimpse of Past,” St. Joseph News Press, May 27, 2000.