The Pony Express lasted only 19 months from April of 1860 to October of 1861 but it left a permanent imprint on American history and still captures the imagination to this day.
The real Pony Express, in fact, went bankrupt in spite of the fact that it did exactly what it was intended to do – provide reliable, for-those-days, fast communication across the vast American West between St. Joe, Mo. and Sacramento, Calif.
The Pony Express eventually used 100 stations along the route, had 80 riders and between 400 and 500 horses and despite the harsh conditions on much of the route lost only one mail delivery during its time in operation.
One of those stations was run by a German immigrant, Gerat H. Hollenberg and his wife, Sophia, near the Black Vermillion River in Marshall County Kansas. Today, his cabin is a National Historic site open from April to September. It is one of 16 sites in Kansas operated by the state Historical Society.
This Friday, June 20, visitors who gather at the site can get a glimpse of a sight from history – a rider galloping into the station to hand off the mochila containing commemorative letters with a new rider and horse.
It is part of an annual re-ride of the Pony Express trail staged by the National Pony Express Association.
The rider is scheduled to arrive at Hollenberg Station at 7 p.m. on Friday, but the time is approximate and could be two hours earlier or later.
The Hollenberg station and visitor center closes at 5 p.m., but visitors will be welcome to gather on the grounds and wait for the rider.
The Friends of Hollenberg Station will provide refreshments. Hollenberg Pony Express Station is located at 2889 23rd Road, Hanover. For more information, call 785-337-2635 or visit kshs.org/hollenberg.
The one-room cabin that housed Hollenberg's merchantile business was located there because of its proximity to the Oregon-California Trail and its first customers were travelers on the trail. After the end of the Pony Express and as trail travelers declined, Hollenberg turned to conventional farming and cattle grazing.
He also stayed active in civic affairs. He founded the nearby town of Hanover and donated the money for the first church and government buildings. He made a small fortune in real estate and served three terms in the Kansas state legislature.