Saturday, August 24, 2013

Looking for Dorothy

We’re in Kansas, and although there is an Oz museum, we decided to go to a Pony Express museum instead. Besides, the actual house that was used in the Wizard of Oz movie isn’t at the museum, its somewhere else.


The Pony Express Home Station #1 Museum in Marysville was the first of 40 westbound “home stations”on the 1840 mile Pony Express route between St. Joseph, MO and Sacramento, CA. The home stations were places for the riders to rest. Horses were exchanged every 10 to 15 miles at relay stations.




The horses may have had it easier than the riders who were recruited with posters seeking “young, skinny, wiry fellows…wiling to risk death daily.” But the pay was pretty good for 1860…$25 per week.



Each rider was provided with a saddle, a bridle and a bible. The mail was carried in a saddle cover with built-in saddle bags called the mochila, which sounds like the name of a mocha cooler at a fast food restaurant.


When the riders got their breaks at the home stations they got to sleep in the luxurious accommodations of the stable, which they shared with several horses and a blacksmith shop.

Even though the Pony Express seems to hold an important place in American history, it lasted only 18 months. It was a private enterprise which went out of business when the telegraph became a common means of communication and reliable railroad service to the west coast became available. Sort of like what’s happening to the US Postal Service in the face of e-mail and texting.

Fort Riley, KS is the home of the US Cavalry Museum.


Fort Riley was first established 150 years ago and served many years as the primary remount and training facility for the US Cavalry. The building that houses the museum was originally the base hospital.



The museum tracks the use of horses by the army since the revolution, and yes, that horse model is wearing a gas mask.


Fort Riley is now the home base of the 1st Infantry, or Big Red 1, so we were surprised to see that there are still horses on the base. The unit is called the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard, which trains and stables here, but does exhibitions across the country, as funding permits. (We were told they currently don’t travel more than 100 miles from base.)


These are the vehicles they travel in. The unit has been seen in parades in Washington and other places, but not recently. It has something to do with the sequester.

We ran into a young master sergeant with the color guard and he was kind enough to give us a tour of the barns and introduce us to some of the horses. The facility is open to the public but the Army seems to keep it a secret from visitors. But if horses are around, Penny can sniff them out.



We also visited the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and Library in Abilene, KS. This is the third  presidential museum we’ve visited on this trip.



The property includes Eisenhower’s boyhood home.

We were a bit surprised at the content of the museum, especially after visiting both the Lincoln and Truman museums.


The Eisenhower Museum exhibits seemed to be 80% about Ike’s military career and 20% about his presidency. Considering his role in WWII we expected it to be covered in detail, but it seemed to be overdone. Every small weapon used during the war is on display, as are a few larger pieces. There was a little on his election and re-election, the cold war, the post-war economic recovery, and the interstate highway system, but not very much.

I guess my favorite part of the museum was a quote from Eisenhower who was asked why his presidency seemed to be less stressful than some previous presidencies. I don’t have his exact words, but it was something like: I was fortunate to have a Congress that was more interested in working for the American people than in political battles. When the two parties are willing to negotiate and compromise, its easy to get things done. What a unique idea!


Post a Comment

<< Home