brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Nebraska Stations From North Platte to Fort Kearney the Pony Express Trail and the Oregon Trail were located on the south side of the Platte River, while the Mormon Trail was on the north side. Later the railroad chose the north side of the river as did later highways. From Fort Kearney the Pony Express Trail headed southeast out of the Platte Valley following the Little Blue River.

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

List of Stations

  • Diamond Springs
  • Gills
  • Beauvais Ranch
  • Alkali Lake
  • Elkhorn
  • Dansey's
  • O'Fallon's Bluff
  • Fremont Springs
  • North Platte
  • Cold Springs
  • Box Elder
  • Cottonwood Springs
  • Gilman's Ranch
  • Fairfield
  • Summit
  • 32 Mile Creek
  • Spring Ranch
  • Lone Tree
  • Liberty Farm
  • Little Blue
  • Oak Grove
  • Kiowa
  • Millersville
  • Thompson's
  • Big Sandy
  • Rock Creek
brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Scotts Bluff

As the skyline along the Platte River began to reveal its strange scenery, overland emigrants knew for sure they were in western lands. Certain large formations might loom in the distance for days before the slow-moving wagon trains reached them. Scotts Bluff was one such sight. Their imaginations sparked by the fortress-like vision on the horizon, travelers called it "a Nebraska Gibraltar or a Mausoleum which the mightiest of earth might covet."

Scottsbluff National Monument near Gering has a museum, overland trail history, artifacts, and an extensive collection of the paintings of William Henry Jackson.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Chimney Rock

Rising 470 feet above the North Platte River Valley stands Chimney Rock, the most celebrated of all natural formations along the overland route to California, Oregon and Utah. Chimney Rock was an early landmark for fur traders, trappers, and mountain men as they made their way from the Rockies to the Missouri River. To later emigrants, the solitary spire marked the end of plains travel and the beginning of the rugged mountain portion of their journey. Thousands of travelers carved their names into the soft base only to have those records eroded away by the forces of nature.

One curious aspect of Chimney Rock, commented on by a large number of emigrants, was the deceptive distance of the formation from the beholder. This has been attributed to the extreme clarity of the atmosphere in these parts and the unfamiliarity of the emigrants with distances on the High Plains. It was also difficult to gauge the height of Chimney Rock for lack of any handy comparisons. Estimates varied from 50 feet to 700 feet. The Rock was actually about two miles south of the main trail, but was in the view of westbound emigrants for 30 to 40 miles from the east, or two full days' travel.

The rock formation can be reached by a 1 1/2- to 2-mile gravel road off SR92, then a 1/2-mile hike on an unimproved path. A good view is also available from the Chimney Rock Station Museum on SR92. The site is especially scenic at night, when the rock is illuminated from dusk to about 10:30pm.

In the immediate vicinity of Chimney Rock was an excellent spring which made it a favorite campsite. Later Chimney Rock Station was located between Chimney Rock and the North Platte River and was an important Pony Express stop between stations at Courthouse Rock and Ficklin's Springs.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Courthouse Rock

Courthouse Rock is one of the most famous landmarks in the North Platte Valley. Its prominence is attested to by the numerous references made to it in the diaries, letters and other writings of emigrants, military men, traders, trappers, and explorers on their way to Oregon, California and Utah.

Courthouse Rock, and its less famous counterpart, Jail Rock, are located about five miles south of Bridgeport, and rise about 400 feet above the North Plate River.

As the emigrants moved west across the broad plains, the altitude increased and the air became thinner. As the sun beamed its rays with more intensity, the ability to judge distance accurately decreased. Many pioneers mentioned going over to examine Courthouse Rock, which they reckoned to be a mile or two away from the trail. Actually, the rock was six to seven miles away. Most travelers returned to their camping places without getting a close-up view of the bluff.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

North Platte

From Julesburg the Pony Express Trail headed east following the South Platte River to the North Platte River.

Buffalo Bill State Historic Park is the site of Buffalo Bill's Home.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Gothenburg

The history of Gothenburg dates back to the great westward expansion, when thousands of pioneers crossed through here on the Mormon and Oregon Trails. In 1860 and 1861 the town boasted a station for the Pony Express.

The original Pony Express Station is in Ehmen Park .

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Willow Island

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.

This cabin, built about 1849, was originally located on the south bank of the Plate River south of Darr. It was first used as a post to trade with the Indians. Later it was known as Willow Island Station and was used as a stage and Pony Express station. Billy Campbell and Melville Baugh both were riders on this portion of the trail.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Lexington

Lexington evolved in the 1860's from a small settlement called Plum Creek which consisted of a Pony Express station and the Daniel Freeman trading post on the Oregon Trail south of the Platte River. A cabin from the Plum Creek Pony Express Station may be seen in the city park.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Fort Kearny

The growth of overland emigration to Oregon after 1842 resulted in the establishment of military posts across the west to protect the travelers. The first post, Fort Kearny, was established in the spring of 1848 near the head of Grand Island along the Platte River by Lieutenant Daniel P. Woodbury.

Fort Kearny was a way station, sentinel post, supply depot and message center for '49ers bound for California and home seekers traveling to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. By the 1860's the Fort had become a significant stage and freighting station. The Fort also provided protection for the crews constructing the Union Pacific Railroad after the Civil War.

On the grounds of Fort Kearny State Historical Park is a stockade replica and a reconstructed blacksmith shop.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Kearney

Two miles west of Fort Kearny, the small commercial center of Kearney City was established in 1859. The town's more common name, Dobytown, was derived from the resemblance of its twelve to fifteen earthen buildings of adobe structures.

Dobytown developed in response to the thousands of soldiers, freighters and travelers whose "needs" could not be met within the Fort. Gambling, liquor and disreputable men and women were its principal attractions. However, in addition to its notorious functions, Dobytown also served as the major outfitting point west of the Missouri River, the center of frontier transportation form 1860 to 1868, and a Pony Express Station.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Pumpkinseed Creek

The Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden displays more than 50,000 historical items that depict America's progress since 1830. Among the buildings is the original Pumpkinseed Pony Express Station.

This crude cabin served as a stagecoach and Pony Express Station at Pumpkinseed Creek Crossing six miles south of Bridgeport during and after the great Black Hills Gold Rush of 1876. It was the last stop on the Deadwood Trail before reaching the famous bridge across the North Platte River at Old Camp Clark, three miles west of Bridgeport.

This Pony Express Relay station was moved to its present site in 1955. This station was the subject of William Henry Jackson's famous painting "Changing Horses, Pumpkinseed Station, Nebraska".

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Pole Creek No. 3

This site was on the north side of Lodgepole Creek, on the old St. George Cattle Ranch, about three and one-half miles east of Sidney, Cheyenne County. Old maps identify this as the stage ranch of Rouliette and Pringle, with well fortified buildings part dugout, part sod and logs. The ford must have been at or near this point. This place had importance as the junction of the old California Road and stage route heading for the North Platte, and a new stage route heading due west for Bridger Pass and Salt Lake City. (This is the "Lodgepole Route" which later became the Union Pacific route to Cheyenne.)

Sir Richard Burton's description of ''Lodgepole Station," although serving him as a stage station, may be taken as a rare contemporary description of a Nebraska Pony Express station:

"The hovel fronting the creek was built like an Irish shanty, or a Beloch hut, against a hill side, to save one wall, and it presented a fresh phase of squalor and wretchedness. The mud walls were partly papered with Harper's Magazine, Frank Leslie, and the New York Illustrated News; the ceiling was a fine festoon-work of soot, and the floor was very much like the ground outside, only not nearly so clean. In a corner stood the usual "bunk,'' a mass of mingled rags and buffalo robes; the centre of the room was occupied by a ricketty table, and boxes, turned-up on their long sides, acted as (hairs. The unescapable stove was there, filling the interior with the aroma of meat. As usual, the materials for ablution, a ''dipper'' or cup, a dingy tin skillet of scanty size, a bit of coarse gritty soap, and a public towel, like a rag of gunny bag, were deposited upon a rickety settle outside.

"There being no "lady" at the station on Lodgepole Creek, milk was unprocurable. Here, however, began a course of antelope venison, which soon told upon us with damaging effect."

Burton was forever complaining about the terrible food at these stage stations.

Source: Mattes and Henderson, The Pony Express from St. Joseph to Fort Laramie, 1989.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

32 Mile Creek Station

Thirty-two Mile Creek Station is located 25 miles west of Liberty Farm Station in the NE 1/4, Sec. 6, T6N, R10W, about six miles southwest of Hastings, Nebraska. A numberless Nebraska Monument marks the site as "Dinner Statioin. I.O.O.F.E., Pony Express." This was a long one-story building operated by George A. Comstock. It was abandoned after the 1864 raids.

Source: Mattes and Henderson, The Pony Express from St. Joseph to Fort Laramie, 1989.

Sir Richard Burton passed Thirty-mile Creek Station on August 9, 1860:

"At 9 p.m., reaching "Thirty-two Mile Creek," we were pleasantly surprised to find an utter absence of the Irishry. The station-master was the head of a neathanded and thrifty family from Vermont; the rooms, such as they were, looked cosey and clean, and the chickens and peaches were plump and well "fixed." Soldiers from Fort Kearny loitered about in the adjoining store, and from them we heard of past fights and rumors of future wars which were confirmed on the morrow."

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K

Rock Creek Station

Rock Creek Station near Fairbury was an important road ranch on the Oregon Trail. Established in 1857 by S. C. Glenn, Rock Creek Station evolved from a small cabin with a lean-to and barn, situated on the west side of Rock Creek. This road ranch catered to stages, freight lines, and emigrant traffic on the Oregon Trail. The lean-to was set up as a primitive store, where hay, grain, and supplies could be bought, sold, or traded.

In 1859, Dave McCanles bought Rock Creek Station and built a log cabin and dug a good well on the east side of Rock Creek. He built a toll bridge across the creek, eliminating the crude rock ford. His normal fee ranged from 10 to 50 cents, depending on a person's ability to pay. The following year, he rented the East Ranch to Russell, Majors and Waddell for use as a swing station where Pony Express riders could quickly change their mounts.

James Butler Hickok, who became the legendary gunfighter and lawman Wild Bill Hickok, was an assistant station tender at Rock Creek Station where, in a still disputed gunfight with station agent David McCanles, McCanles and three other men were killed by Hickok.

Rock Creek Station State Historical Park is open daily.

Return to List

brnline.gif - 1.64 K