Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The History of Midway Station By Donna Schlachter—with Giveaway

Midway Station pre-1959

If you look on a map of Nebraska, you won’t find Midway Station. That’s because it is not, and has never been, a hamlet, village, town, or city. Midway Station was one of the stops along the Pony Express route, which ran—and still exists in many areas—from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California.

However, if you’ve ever passed near or through Gothenburg, Nebraska, you might well have seen the cabin called Midway Station. It is one of the few original stations that remains at its original location. Much more famous, perhaps, is the Sam Machette station in the city of Gothenburg, which was moved in 1931 and turned into a museum in the mid 1950s which attracts more than thirty thousand visitors each year.
Midway Station with Pony Express plaque

Midway Station was built in 1859 just south of modern-day Gothenburg and expanded in 1860 to its current size when it was contracted by the Pony Express. Originally it was used by the Leavenworth City and Pikes Peak Express Company, then adopted as a stop where riders could get a fresh horse, use the privy, and perhaps get a crust of bread or a quick meal to keep them going to the next home station.

Midway was used by wagon trains along the Oregon Trail to water or rest their animals and emigrants, and sometimes the trains would send hunters to replenish fresh meat supplies. Large and small game was plentiful, as were wild berries in season and plenty of prairie grasses to feed their horses, cattle, and oxen.

By the late 1870s, when wagon trains were replaced in large part by trains, the station wasn’t used as much. In 1879, Henry Williams bought the building and turned it into a bunkhouse or cabin on his Lower 96 Ranch.

The Midway Station has gone by several names over the years, including Cold Water Ranch, Heavy Timber, Smith’s East Ranch, and Pat Mullaly’s Home Station. It is a long, low, one-story cabin, constructed of heavy, squared, hand-hewn cedar logs. When the Pony Express contracted to rent the location for its riders, two additional sections were added to the east. Originally, the log walls sat on a bare earth floor, but a concrete foundation was added later. Wall spaces were originally packed with mud, and the low pitched, split cedar roof was supported by cedar log ridge beams, and then covered with a heavy layer of sod, on which the split cedar shingles now rest.

Many stations used by wagon trains and express services in Nebraska were destroyed during Indian raids, and many more fell into ruins once the railroad was completed. Rumors abound that Midway Station was one that was burned, however, it seems a larger frame house built nearby was destroyed, with minor damage to the station.

In recent years, the family that owns the station has created a museum-like experience including furnishings and artifacts. If you’d like to visit, contact the Gothenburg Pony Express Museum at 308-537-9876.

Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for an ebook copy of Hearts of Hollenberg, the first in my Hearts of the Pony Express series. And stay tuned for Book 4 in the series, Hearts of Midway, which releases in August.

About Donna:
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching committed career writers. Learn more at Check out her coaching group on FB:

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. I'm always fascinated by the Pony Express. I know these stations were vital for the riders. I can see where it would be a good idea to open to wagon trains and other travelers as well.