Pony Express as Icon

“Though William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody demonstrated the Pony Express in his Wild West shows in the 1880s, recognition of the significance of the Pony Express came at the turn of the century after the publication of Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in 1893. Thereafter, fearing the consequences of the frontier closing on our American character, we as a nation, drew strength from our frontier heritage and rise of the American West. In this quest for a usable past, the Pony Express became a usable American Western icon, symbolizing America’s strength, work ethic, entrepreneurship, and individual heroism. . . .

“Since the turn of the century, Pony Express celebration events have allowed Americans to become familiar with the activities of the Pony Express. The historical significance of the Pony Express was first highly publicized in 1912, when the Daughters of the American Republic erected a monument in St. Joseph, Missouri, to commemorate the starting point of the Pony Express. In honor of the event, Colonel W.F. Cody and Charles Cliff, former Pony Express riders, attended the dedication.”