Hollenberg Pony Express Station as seen from the Visitor's Center
Although the Pony Express was only in operation for 18 months in 1860 and 1861, it has captured the imagination of generations of people around the world. Hollenberg Station, built in 1858 by Gerat J. and Sophia Hollenberg, served as both a stop for the Pony Express and a way station for travelers passing through Kansas on the California and Oregon Trails.
When the Pony Express went bankrupt it cost the Hollenberg's hundreds of dollars. Traffic on the Oregon and California trails diminished during and after the Civil War and the Hollenberg turned to general farming. Each year, fewer travelers stopped at the station for a meal or an overnight rest.
Today, Hollenberg Pony Express Station near Hanover, Kansas is a national historic landmark managed by the Kansas State Historical Society. A modest visitor's center and parking lot is located 1/8 mile east of the station, though there is handicap parking much closer and all visitors are encouraged to use that lot in bad weather. The visitor's center has a one gallery museum, small gift shop, and a theater where one or both of two videos lasting a total of 45 minutes may be viewed.
But what about the "haunted" part you ask? So did I.
Several web sites claim that Hollenberg Station is haunted. They report strange sounds and cold spots in the Station, then go so far as to say that the ghosts of Pony Express riders are heard and seen passing along the old route. Most of these web sites aren't very convincing - it isn't even clear that their creators have visited Hollenberg Station. One site even displays a photo of a building that is unrelated to the Station.
But one website did seem a bit more serious, so I risked looking foolish and asked the volunteers working at Hollenberg Station about the ghost stories. The staff said that a book was published that said the station is haunted, but that so far as they knew, no one has ever reported unusual sightings or sounds. One woman did say that Hollenberg Station feels a bit spooky when you are there alone and it is quiet. But nothing more.
The director of Hollenberg Station was absent the day I visited, but the volunteers reported that he is skeptical about the ghost stories. He has said that he might stay overnight at the station to dispel rumors, but he hadn't done that as of March of 2006. I suggested they make some "Haunted Hollenberg Pony Express Station" T-shirts. Ghosts sell!
Hollenberg Pony Express Station is just north of Hanover off Kansas Highway 148, one mile east on K-243. The grounds and exterior of the Station can been visited when the site is closed and there is a picnic area.
copyright 2006-2011 by Keith Stokes