Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
Yes
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

"Wanted. Young skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Apply, Pony Express Stables. St. Joseph, Missouri." So reads the famous want ad for Pony Express riders. The preference for orphans tells you quite a bit about the job. Riders would ride their ponies (often mules) hard and fast over about 20 miles per shift across the country. They carried little more than a pistol for protection as anything more would be too much extra weight.

Indeed, riders were targets for the lands' original inhabitants, the Native Americans. That along with the general roughness and nature of the work led to 16 deaths over the 18 months that the Pony Express operated, which was from April 1860 to October 1861. Its existence laid the foundation for the United States Postal Service.

Today, you can visit one of the original Pony Express stations in Ehmen City Park in Gothenburg, Nebraska. It's called the Sam Machette station and was deconstructed, moved, and rebuilt in the park in 1931. It currently serves as a museum and gift shop.

It's a well-built, sturdy little cabin. Even the front door feels small, reminding you that frontier life was austere and harsh. Bolted to the front door is a mail pouch. You can purchase a postcard and stamp and drop it into the pouch. Don't expect a rider in a fringed jacket to gallop up to take it; letters get collected by the modern postal service, but it's a neat feeling to send something from the touchpoint of an important piece of American history

The cabin itself is easy to access. It's located just a few minutes off the Gothenburg exit from Interstate 80 through Nebraska. It's a long drive and makes an ideal place to escape the car, stretch your legs, and be reminded of what hardcore adventurers did to survive 160 years ago. Gothenburg is small, and you cannot miss the station as it tends to look a little out of place on the park's manicured lawns. Parking is free and easy to find.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Easy to access. Nice break from driving. Unexpectedly interesting.

Cons

Limited hours. Not much else to do.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Flushing toilets
Picnic tables
Playground
Family friendly
Historically significant
Guided tours

Location

Field Guide

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